Weekly mindfulness meditation sessions are open to all students, faculty, and staff! This offering is part of UH Wellness's mission to educate around all dimensions of wellness, and provide a space for emotional and mental development.
Sessions are held throughout the spring semester. Attend weekly on Thursdays from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in the UH Wellness Classroom, located in suite 1038 on the first floor of the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center. No pre-registration is required - just show up and join us!
Mindfulness is the natural human ability to pay attention to your current experiences as they are happening. It involves intentionally remaining present with whatever is happening right now — internal thoughts and feelings, as well as external sensations and perceptions — in a clear, open, and nonjudgmental way.
More than 30 years of research has shown that mindfulness is a skill that can help improve mental and physical health, and overall well-being for many people. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and physical discomfort from illness. It also can help improve sleep, emotional balance, and the kind of positive outlook that contributes to a satisfying life. Many studies have shown that practicing mindfulness for only a few weeks can produce results. Many universities, hospitals, and corporations now offer mindfulness programs at work or on campus. The US military is even training soldiers in mindfulness as prevention and treatment for PTSD.
Come to our weekly mindfulness sessions! There is no experience necessary. The sessions will start with 15 minutes of instructions, followed by 30 minutes of mindfulness meditation practice, and then 15 minutes for questions. This type of meditation involves nothing more than improving your ability to stay mentally focused on what’s happening in your mind, body, and world right now. By deliberately taking time out of your day to focus your attention on your present experience, you develop skills over time to keep your attention focused on your actual experience all throughout the day.
It’s really pretty simple. No incense or yoga mats! The group will sit on chairs in a circle, in a comfortable but alert position. After a little instruction from the leader, we will then sit quietly for a while. There are many different ways to develop concentration and attention. Simply begin by turning your focus to the physical sensations of your natural breath as it moves in and out of your body. Eventually you will notice that you’ve stopped paying attention to your breath, and have wandered off, lost in thought. That’s perfectly normal. When that happens, you simply begin again. It is through this repeated training of your attention that you begin to develop a skill of staying present with your experiences throughout the day.
Mindfulness meditation has been practiced in some form in every culture and religion in the world throughout history. The current interest in mindfulness comes primarily from techniques originally developed in Buddhism, much like the interest in yoga today is derived from certain Hindu practices. Mindfulness today is a secular activity that does not involve a religious practice or require any particular set of beliefs. It is simply developing your natural human ability to pay attention to your current experiences as they are happening. Some people prefer to combine it with their personal religious practices, and will find it completely compatible with their personal spiritual growth.
David Dumonde is a UH staff member who began practicing mindfulness to deal with stress after Hurricane Katrina devastated his hometown of New Orleans in 2005. He has led mindfulness groups and taught meditation for several years, both in person and online. He was trained by Shinzen Young, a meditation teacher for more than 40 years. The UH weekly mindfulness meditation sessions are sponsored by UH Wellness.
Do I have to sit cross-legged on the floor to meditate?
If you enjoy sitting on the floor, feel free to do so, but it isn’t necessary. It is more important to sit so that you are comfortable and alert. Sit upright in a chair. Use the back for support if you need it, or sit slightly forward if you can be comfortable that way.
Should I always sit to meditate?
Sitting is the most common way to meditate because it is easy to be both comfortable and alert. You can also focus your attention on your breath at any time during the day when standing, walking, or reclining. Be careful when reclining to remain alert and not drift off to sleep.
Is following the breath the only way to meditate?
You can focus your attention on any bodily sensation or external sense perception that is happening right now. Some people focus on their own heartbeat, others focus on sounds around them, others focus on mentally repeating a word or phrase, such as a mantra.
Should I close my eyes to meditate?
Usually closing your eyes reduces visual distractions, but it may cause you to become sleepy. If you feel drowsy, open them partially and gaze at the floor a few feet in front of you. Find what works best for you.
What do I do with my hands?
Some meditators emphasize holding the hands in certain positions, and you can do that if you prefer, but it isn’t necessary. You can simply place your hands in your lap, or on your legs or knees. Keep your elbows close to your side so you don’t slump forward.
When, where, and how often should I meditate?
Anywhere, anytime, and as often as you like. Most people get the greatest benefit by meditating daily at a set time each day. As little as 10 or 20 minutes every day is enough, but do it longer if you enjoy it. Meditating consistently every day is more important than how long you sit.
Will meditation cause me zone out or enter some altered state?
That isn’t really the goal of mindfulness. Instead, we want to pay attention to whatever is actually happening right now, to be present with what happens in the body, mind, and world around us.