Breathe yourself better

Meditation: it’s a buzzword that carries a myriad of preconceptions, misconceptions and questions.

Samantha Arin and Jamie Anderson, certified yoga instructors who have taught in a several cities in the Metro Detroit area, demystify the ancient tradition of meditation and provide expert tips on how anyone can start a meditation practice of their own to care for the mind and body.

“Anyone can meditate,” Anderson said. “All you have to do is breathe.”

“Focus on the breath as it passes in and out through the nose,” she said.

“[Meditation] helps to increase concentration and helps one deal with the ups and downs of life by making the mind less reactive,” she said. “It helps to balance moods and decrease anxiety.”

It’s no secret that university students deal with tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety – not just during exams, but also on a daily basis.

In fact, Oakland University students ranked above average in stress and anxiety according to the National College Health Assessment, a survey given every three years to measure students’ health and wellness habits.

38 percent of OU students reported high stress levels, with the national collegiate average being 28 percent.

Having numbers like these on campus, it may be more beneficial for students to incorporate just minutes of a simple breathing practice a day into their busy schedules. 

“Be patient,” Arin said. “Understand that one doesn’t learn how to be a skillful meditator overnight. You have to hone in on the skill. It requires tremendous dedication.”

Just one minute a day, she said, is enough for students to start sharpening their meditation skills.

“Then maybe try going for three or five,” she said. “You don’t need to sit for an hour. It’s more so about making just a few moments each day where you can quiet the mind.”

For OU students who are familiar with meditation or yoga and are looking to take their practice to the next level, the Recreation Center provides an opportunity to do so.

On March 21st and 22nd, the Recreation Center is hosting Yoga Instructor Training Level 1 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., ending with an examination for a certificate of completion, through YogaFit.

“I think [yoga classes] are an amazing opportunity for the students who live on campus, in addition to having the teacher training through OU,” said sophomore Bohdanna Cherstylo, who works as a receptionist at a local yoga studio.

With teacher training at the Recreation Center running students $399, and studios in the area charging upwards of $2,000, Cherstylo said that although some may see teacher training as a hobby or pastime, it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

However, for students who want to attain better mental health, concentration and greater relaxation, they need not look any further than their breath.

Best of all, that’s free of charge.

Meditating daily isn’t necessary for one to see the benefits that will start to permeate everyday life, but Arin suggests that for a beginner, the more frequent, the better.

“Remember,” she said, “you just have to be patient and know that there’s a reason it’s called a ‘practice.’”