Emory Report
April 27, 2009
Volume 61, Number 29


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April 27
, 2009
Take time out with Meditation Stations

By Kim Urquhart

The group sits quietly on the floor, breathing deeply.

A door slams in the hall, student’s voices pour in from the Quad. “One of the benefits of meditation is that you learn to tolerate life’s little annoyances without engaging with them,” says Shirley Banks, who leads the Meditation Station that has transformed a Candler Library classroom into a quiet refuge.

Mindfulness may be as important to health as exercise and nutrition, says Banks, a health educator with Student Health and Counseling Services who hosts opportunities to meditate twice a week at two locations on campus.

It may be finals week — which no doubt is raising some students’ stress levels — but mindfulness meditation is a way for everyone to maintain mental and emotional health, year-round. Banks notes that scientists at Emory and elsewhere are working to understand the link between health and mindfulness practices such as meditation.

No experience is necessary for the non-sectarian meditation sessions, and those who want to begin a meditation practice or strengthen an existing one are welcome, says Banks.

Banks begins each 20-minute session with a brief introduction that covers choosing a posture, and how to monitor your breathing —“We notice thoughts and physical sensations, but we don’t get involved with them,” she’ll note — and peppers verbal cues throughout the meditation to bring the attention back to the breath.

The free Meditation Stations are sponsored by Health Education and Promotion at Emory Student Health and Counseling Services. Banks leads both sessions — Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in Candler Library 119 and Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in DUC 362 — but is hopeful more stations will sprout around campus.

“This is just the beginning,” says Banks. “Ultimately the vision is to have faculty and staff who have a meditation practice — they don’t have to be dharma teachers or psychology professionals — to find a consistent time on their schedule and a room nearby. I’ll post it on the Trumba calendar, so that anybody who is on that part of campus can drop in.”

The new Meditation Stations complement Emory’s rich and diverse religious life, notes Banks, and the contemplative studies research by faculty like John Dunne, Bobbi Patterson, Charles Raison and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi.

The Meditation Stations join other opportunities for meditation at Emory, weaving a culture of mindfulness into the fabric of campus life, says Banks.

“It’s important to have a place where we model for one another that it is the right thing to do to stop being so driven, just for a few minutes out of the day.”