Students Learn Mindfulness

Eastern Michigan University students practiced mindfulness and relaxation in the “Mindful Being” meditation program at Snow Health Center on Friday.

A group of five students sat in comfortable chairs as they participated in three meditation exercises while instructed by counseling psychologist, Melissa Plaufcan.

The session began with students holding raisins to their mouth. This exercise is meant to help students think about and feel what they are eating before putting it in their mouths. It ended with breathing exercises while meditating.

Plaufcan asked the students about their experiences after each exercise. Each exercise is intended to show students how they could be more mindful in daily activities and relieve stress from schoolwork and worries.

EMU’s Counseling and Psychological Services started “Mindful Being” in the fall as an eight-session closed group for students experiencing anxiety and depression. To make it more accessible, it was changed to a drop-in group and is only offered in the fall and winter semesters for students, staff and faculty.

Monica Thiagarajan, coordinator of group therapy and event organizer, explained why students should attend:

“Mindfulness helps cultivate a sense of ability to cope with stressors,” she said. “It kind of increases our resources to deal with things when you are feeling overwhelmed. Now we are so distracted by cell phones and social media and we lose track of what’s going on in the present moment. People think exercise will help, but it is all about breath.”

Freshman Amanda Rabb said she learned a lot of useful information that will benefit her in college.

“It’s good to take a step back from reality, you have to give your mind a break,” she said. “It makes you happier and more focused. It’s really relaxing; it is not that long. You can take away Netflix and other distractions. It’s on a Friday so it’s not like you have class -- I feel peaceful. It helps you so your brain doesn’t fall out of your ears!”

Freshman Julie Lahtonen, a friend of Rabb’s, was first made aware of the program from her psychology professor, Amanda Ellis. She said that constantly working out and not getting enough sleep has caused her a lot of stress. She convinced both of her friends to come along.

Freshman Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson meditates daily and has made it work for her prior to attending the session.

“You learn so many things about yourself and the world around you,” she said. “It’s healthy for your mind and academics.”

Plaufcan ended the 30-minute session by encouraging the students to continue practicing mindfulness.

“Find everyday opportunities to be mindful, what fits into your schedule the best,” she said. “Mindfulness is getting out of your head and being in the present.”


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