Meditation without chanting, praying, ritual, or any other religious byproduct has become the new face of mental and emotional health in the modern world’s holistic eye and Universities, junior colleges, and private schools have begun to pile on the band wagon, North Idaho College being no exception.
NIC has a new kind of club; meeting once a week every Tuesday at 12:00 in room LKH 242 philosophy instructor at NIC, Laura Templeman and, English instructor at NIC, Aaron Cloyd lead a guided group meditation. Templeman is hoping to begin each practice with no talking due to its interruption of the clarity and calmness of the environment.
The club will be using many different forms of breathing and guided meditations from YouTube and the meditation app Headspace. The app HeadSpace explains meditation as sitting by a street watching the cars go by and rather than focusing on one car [thought] going by one must just let all the cars [thoughts] go by in a peaceful way never focusing or getting hung up on one singular vehicle.
Aaron Cloyd, “From the English club’s perspective it is a part of our job to create places across campus that can better serve students…From a professor’s standpoint I see a lot of students trying to cope with their stress and aspects of concentration, students unable to contemplate a text over an extended time…it’s about providing a helpful service to students and faculty as well.”
Some of the benefits of meditation, according to The Science of Health; Happiness and Social Connection, are increased memory retention and improves attention. Practicing regular meditation can also positively effect on energy, mood, life satisfaction, immune function, and can decrease pain and inflammation in some cases. The study by Emma Seppala, PhD, also states that research has shown meditation can change and improve the physical structure of the human brain. It increases thickness in the parts on the brain responsible for introspection and attention, increase grey matter in areas related to memories and thought, and can increase brain volume in areas hardwired for emotion regulation, positivity, and self-control.
Templeman and Cloyd agree that the medical and emotional benefits of meditation need to be more explored and embraced at NIC as well as around the world. According to Templeman, the response to the club so far on campus has been very positive and she and Cloyd only see the popularity of their club growing. Even some instructors on campus have begun incorporating concentration meditation into their lessons to improve activity and responsiveness in students, according to Templemen. Some schools, such as one elementary school in West Baltimore has begun to use meditation as opposed to detention. The result has been calmer students, fewer office referrals, and less struggling children.
Templemen “We are not present in the moment, we do not concentrate, we run through life. We are just very busy, myself included.” Templmen’s adopted philosophy of just a few minutes a day reserved for concentration meditation will “lead to a better appreciation for the present moment.”
Templemen, as well as many meditation experts, stresses that meditation is not about stopping one’s mind, but rather to take the time to notice how busy one’s mind is.