The first meditation class I attended was in high school. After my friend convinced me to take a class with her, I decided to tag along. I thought thirty minutes would fly by in a flash. It couldn’t be that bad right? However, the seemingly simple practice of ‘focus on your breath’ became muddled with my darting thoughts. I was skating through moments of the past or thinking of the future. On top of that, my legs fell asleep and I didn’t have breakfast that morning. In the dead of the supposed meditative silence, I expectantly waited for the moment to rush home. It sounds treacherous, and it was. Fast forward to now, and meditation has become a part of my daily routine. During the worldwide historical event that is the pandemic, I have found many posts online about how great meditation is. But, it may be intimidating to start even though we are aware of this information. Being a student at the University of Washington, I wanted to share the resources I have gathered within the tri-campuses. Starting meditation might seem less daunting when going to events that are within our own communities and clubs. So here are resources if you want to try or incorporate meditation into your life.
Set an Intention
Before beginning, I want you to ask yourself a question. One of the most important questions my teacher says you should ask yourself is Why do I want to meditate? Meditation is a journey, and who you decide to practice with evolves over time. Setting an intention allows you to find the teachers and practices you will resonate with. It also provides you with a direction on what you want to achieve. At the same time, don’t forget to enjoy the time you spend meditating.
SKY Meditation Club
SKY stands for Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, a club at UW Seattle that helps regulate stress levels through yoga and breathing practices. The SKY is actually a non-profit organization with clubs across many universities in the United States. Independent studies on their meditations have been done in universities like Harvard and Yale! I attended their Time Management class which discussed the importance of meditation and how it can help us avoid things like procrastination. The lecture portion lasts about 45 minutes. The sessions typically end with instructors teaching a breathing technique following with a 10-15 minute meditation. I recommend going with a friend (which is what I did). I think it is a great introduction to meditation. The club also hosts weekend retreats over 3 days where their evidence-based meditation, breathing, and yoga techniques are taught (there is a ~$95 charge for students).
SKY also provides lectures on the topic of meditation. If you are someone who wants to learn more about meditation, this could be a place to start. Julia Tang is a professor who teaches meditation to students at Harvard University. She previously hosted lectures with SKY and will be this month, one is Science of Meditation on May 12th.
The Whole U
The Whole U has a meditation series on their website with sessions ranging from body scans, walking, compassion meditations and more. This was a project in collaboration with professors and faculty in UW to provide different practices for the university community, funded by the Resilience Lab. With mostly short 5-8 minute recordings, it is an easy way to experiment with different techniques and find out what you may like best.
The Whole U is also hosting a May Meditation series in light of Mental Health Month. In these sessions, they will discuss various topics on meditation and how to maintain your practices. Topics include: self-compassion and self-acceptance, coping with difficult emotions, and a lecture with Hien Hong on healing yourself and others.
The ARC at UWB
At the heart of our very own campus, the ARC hosts yoga classes online. I understand that sitting in front of our computers is tiring and the last thing you want to do is sit to meditate. An alternative is to try meditation centered around movement. Historically yoga was first introduced in the Rig Vedas, a Sanskrit text, as a meditation practice. Hence, yoga is another form of meditation. I resort to yoga after a long day of lectures and work at my desk.
My meditation teacher, Dr. Vasant Lad once said that it doesn’t matter what type of meditation you do. The form of meditation chosen is like a toy to focus your mind that jumps from thought to thought. It could be a quiet forest walk, tai chi, or simply listening to your favorite guided meditation. The thing that truly matters is what works for you and allows your mind to be calm.
These resources are at your disposal while you are a student at UW, and I highly encourage you to try at least one of them. Maybe a turn of events will change your perspective on meditation, as it did for me. From a place of skepticism as a high school student to now sharing meditation resources with you.