A few more weeks to go and it will time for final exams, but before that, there are project deadlines, presentations, and reports to finish. Hello late nights and goodbye precious sleep. It seems like everything is piling up, and the holidays seem so far away. So how do UM students and staff cope with this stress? Apparently, meditation is the latest trend.
From September to November, a workshop on ‘Relaxation, Stress Release, and Meditation’ was offered every Wednesday in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. It was hosted by Prof Kim Hughes Wilhelm and Dr Hari Venkatesan from the Department of English.
‘We’re kind of making a connection and helping to do – what they call – a transmission – helping to send energy, and helping to kind of clean the thoughts out of the system,’ Prof Wilhelm explains. ‘Hopefully by the end of 20-30 minutes, you’ll have a nice sense of peace come over, or at least your mind will be still. So that’s the hope – if people could just sit there for 20-30 minutes, that’s the hope, that your brain could turn off and you can actually rest your brain and focus on your heart.’
Prof Kim Hughes Wilhelm has published several books on meditation
Prof Wilhelm describes the meditation process as a kind of ‘re-training’ of the mind, and thinking of the mind as more of a tool, like a calculator that’s used when needed, and then put back down again. ‘So it’s re-training the priority given to your thoughts,’ Dr Wilhelm says. ‘Now instead of following your head, we ask for you to focus on your heart.’
Meditating is a great and effective way to manage stress – it can be a tool to achieve a healthier life. Prof Wilhelm mentioned some graduate students who meditate with them, stating that they have joined the medication because they want to be able to manage stress, sleep better, and turn their thoughts off and let their minds rest. Furthermore, after some period of time, meditation can, to some degree, help people to become a more balanced person.
Interview with Prof Kim Hughes Wilhelm
Currently, there are plans for the workshop to be offered in the next semester in January and March 2016, for those who may be interested to join.
When life gets busy, our minds get busy. There are so many thoughts running through our heads that can be overwhelming, and end up stressing us out. Some people try to change their environment to experience less stress but meditation changes the person from within. Setting some time aside to meditate, and giving our minds a break isn’t a bad idea to manage stress at all!