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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Starting the week with mindfulness

Members of the St. Joe’s community participate in meditation. PHOTO: ROSE BARRETT ’20/THE HAWK

CAPS offers weekly group meditation

“Mindful Meditation,” which was first offered on campus last fall, invites community members to enjoy the benefits of meditation in a group setting.

Greg Nicholls, Ph.D, director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which sponsors the weekly meditations, said people who meditate regularly report less anxiety, reduced stress, improved focus and better health overall.

“Meditation improves attention, compassion, self-awareness, and reduces emotionality so that one can better respond when one feels stress, rather than react, often in regrettable ways,” Nicholls said.

The sessions, which are held in Sunroom 1 of the Campion Student Center, take place at 11 a.m. every Monday. Each meditation lasts for about 45 minutes and begins with an exercise to release tension and prepare the body and mind to meditate.

After a group activity, the sessions move towards a guided meditation.

Jill Welsh, associate director of the Faith-Justice Institute, has attended the Mindful Monday sessions regularly since they began on campus.

Welsh said she was interested in the sessions at St. Joe’s because they were reflective of what she learned during a nine-week training in mindfulness at the University of Pennsylvania in 2014.

For Welsh, meditation can be a tool to practice Jesuit values by working on being more present, regulating stress and coping with difficult situations for personal health and well-being.

“Mindful Mondays are a way for CAPS to offer the Ignatian value of ‘cura personalis’ to the university community as well as an additional service to our student community,” Welsh said.

Welsh said that she thinks people are hesitant to try meditation because it can be intimidating for those who are not familiar with it.

“The purpose of mindfulness and this type of meditation is not judging yourself or how well you think you meditated,” Welsh said. “It’s about finding healthy balances in our own lives.”

Valeria Gonzalez ’21 attended the sessions consistently last semester, but she was not familiar with the concept of meditation before she went to the sessions. She said her motivation to go was she wanted to learn how to cope with her stress.

“I was not sure what to expect and was a bit nervous, but Dr. Nicholls was very welcoming and I felt a lot more comfortable after he explained the basics of what mindfulness is,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez added that after beginning to attend, she saw a decrease in her anxiety.

Nicholls said meditation is a simple technique, but it’s not always for everyone.

He said for some people, meditating efforts of any kind can induce more anxiety and occasionally panic. For others, it is a way to focus on being in the moment.

“It’s simply a way to ‘rest in awareness’ with acceptance, free of self-judgment,” Nicholls said. “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind, so it helps one to be more present focused.”

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