Warm weather has finally arrived on campus, but spring is not the only thing in the air. An atmosphere of apprehension has filled Ramapo as finals lurk in the distance.
The bags under students’ eyes are getting larger, their fuses getting smaller. Professors’ office hours are booked to the brim with last minute questions and clarifications. The library is beginning to be more crowded than the dining hall.
Stress seems to have become a mandatory extension of end of the year assignments, but too much stress can be devastating to a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. As a way to help the Ramapo community combat stress, the campus’ Krame Center offered meditation on Tuesday at the library’s Reading and Writing Center.
The event, entitled “The Power of the Mindful Pause Before You Write,” allowed students to take a much needed pause from all of their work and worries and focus on their personal mental welfare.
Krame Center Mindfulness Leader/Outreach Program Coordinator Peter Shalit was leading the 10 minute meditation sessions in the back of the Reading and Writing Center in a dimly lit room with oversized pillows spread across the floor. Shalit carried a singing bowl with him, and he utilized the bowl’s bell sound in the meditation sessions.
“Some of the objects of focus we use for meditation are mostly physical sensations and the breath, but other sensations that can be very present are sound, smell, taste,” said Shalit. “With the bell it’s a nice impetus to focus on sound.”
Shalit explained that meditation can be beneficial in improving stress levels. He also stated that meditation can be a helpful tool for those dealing with chronic pain and chronic illnesses, or it can simply be a way to harness a, "greater sense of wellbeing and peacefulness."
Meditation is formal practice in, “cultivating mindfulness,” according to Shalit. Mindfulness is a growing trend within the world of health, psychology and spirituality. It refers to a nonjudgmental awareness of one’s surroundings and conditions, and according to Psychology Today is arguably the, “single most significant development in mental health practice since the turn of the millennium.”
Meditation and mindfulness, however, is a skill that requires practice, according to Shalit.
“It really is a practice that does require some effort,” he said. “Kind of like going to the gym, you don’t expect to get the benefits from going to the gym once.” He explained, however, that a single ten minute session can help students relax a bit more, and also notice their states of wellbeing.
“Sometimes it’s just noticing that you’re sleepy, noticing that you’re stressed,” said Shalit. “But the idea is that we have to notice these things in order to work with them.”
Stress is not something that comes and goes with finals. It can appear throughout the year, and for some students, anxiety is persistent and disruptive almost every day. The Krame Center for Contemplative Studies and Mindful Living is an excellent resource for students to utilize to help manage their stress levels. Shalit explained that students can partake in weekly meditations at the Krame Center, in addition to other programs such as eight week stress reduction courses and speaker series.
“The Krame Center allows students to escape the heavy workload and de-stress,” said Freshman Tally Neher. “I love having the Krame Center on campus as a resource to relax.”