With exams fast approaching and increasing academic pressure on students at Lehigh, stress levels are high. According to Rabbi Danielle Stillman, the director of Jewish student life on campus, meditation can help individuals cope with stress in several ways.
On Thursday, Stillman gave students tips on meditating and practiced both walking and sitting mediation in the Dialogue Center.
The most important part of meditation is breathing, Stillman said.
“We’re always breathing,” she said. “It’s something we don’t notice and take advantage of.”
Throughout the meditation session, Stillman reminded those meditating to bring themselves back to focusing on their breathing.
Participants found walking meditation a bit more difficult to achieve, but Stillman suggested it is the easiest way for students to give themselves a few minutes of meditation in a busy schedule.
“It’s a good way to sneak meditating in…say to yourself ‘I’m going to walk mindfully to class or to my next meeting,’” Stillman said.
Stillman suggested that students focus on the pressure their feet feel with every step and focus on the movement taking place instead of the next one.
Stillman said that it is very rare that anyone takes the time to only be doing one thing in a moment. Often when people are walking, they are also using their cell phones, and when doing homework students are listening to music or constantly checking Facebook or Instagram.
Too often Lehigh students are so caught up in the busy lives of balancing school, extracurriculars and social life that they forget to focus on what they are doing in the moment.
“In normal life we are so busy…we forget that human beings are moving animals, too,” said Charles Wu, a Lehigh student and also a participant of the meditation discussion.
Meditating can greatly help focusing on studying, Stillman said. It not only helps individuals to re-center themselves and concentrate on their work, but it also helps relieve stress that arises from all of the things a student has to do on a day-to-day basis.
The main goal of meditating according to Stillman is “to get out of turmoil and conflict, to bring ourselves back to the simple most involuntary thing to do.”
Participants discussed that meditating is an activity that varies person to person. Not everyone is going to have the same experience from using different types of meditating positions, locations or breathing techniques. It is important to experiment and find the one that works best for the individual, Stillman said.
Stillman suggested that participants read “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life,” by Thich Nhat Hanh. The Dalai Lama XIV is also a contributing writer for this book and it focuses on a way back to mindfulness.