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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Life moves fast, stop and catch your breathe with meditation

    Jesus Barrera
    Engineering Freshman Ryan Smiley relaxes and meditates on the UA mall grass on Monday April 18th. Smileys says he to meditate there when it’s nice outside and also because he gets to greet his friends when they walk by.

    You may be stressed out all of the time and write it off as a side effect of the busy student lifestyle. The inability to stay focused doesn’t mean you have a disorder. Lack of discipline or balance in life is common. 

    If taking just 15 minutes out of every day could heal all of these wounds, would you do it? Meditation might just do the trick.

    UA adjunct professor of psychology, Tucker Peck, has been “meditating pretty much every day for 11 years.” 

    Peck said he originally began meditating to stop fidgeting and appreciate life more. Peck said there is research on the benefits of meditation. 

    “It decreases anxiety and decreases stress,” said Peck. “… In a research sample, more than 50 percent of people who did two months of meditation didn’t have another episode of depression for three years.” 

    Peck recommends meditation virgins try going to a class first for an introduction to the practice. Having a teacher will help keep newbies from giving up, according to Peck.

    Deanna Kaplan is a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and president of the Arizona Meditation Research Interest Group. She started practicing meditation eight years ago and began studying it about six years ago, according to Kaplan. 

    She advises meditation seekers to view each different practice like going to the gym and choosing a machine: Each one, while similar, can have a different effect on your body. 

    “There are a lot of different types of meditation … but they have different effects on your mind,” said Kaplan.

    The field of meditation is still fairly new and growing and the positive research behind it is building. As a meditation researcher, Kaplan calls into question the mixed findings from meditation studies. She noted studies have shown that while meditation is advantageous to some people, others may not reap the same benefits quite as strongly.

    After many years these questions may be answered, but in the meantime it’s difficult to ignore anecdotal evidence. Kaplan said even if the details are still fuzzy as to the how and the why, the benefits of meditation are apparent. 

    Amanda Freed is a registered yoga teacher and a certified meditation teacher. She has been practicing for more than 15 years.

    “The biggest, most important thing is people think they’re going to meditate, so they can shut their mind off,” said Freed. “And it’s just not possible. The nature of the mind is to think … so when we sit down and our focus is to make that stop, we’re going against nature.” 

    Freed emphasized the importance of understanding that meditation is a grounding experience meant to balance us and focus our mind, not turn it off. 

    Meditation isn’t scary. Meditation is simple. Start your morning with 10 to 15 minutes of quiet meditation. It’s important to meditate consistently every day. 

    “Yogis say if you don’t have 10 minutes to meditate, meditate for an hour” said Freed, “If you don’t have 10 minutes in your day to spare, that’s a problem.” 

    Read: Center for compassion studies built on professor’s meditation research

    Read: Find your zen at mindful meditation

    Follow Casey Aldava on Twitter

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