By Madison Gummow
Improved mental health initiatives at NAIT are here to keep students on top of their mental health game. Many new programs have been launched this semester to improve mental well-being among students, including ‘Quiet Your Mind,’ the drop-in meditation hour. Dr. Tanya Spencer with NAIT Student Counselling says there are “a million” benefits to meditation.
“Some of the benefits come from the activity itself, some of the benefits come from the decision to make room in your life for a practice like relaxation, [which] really is good for what ails you,” said Spencer.
Meditation has become the fastest growing health trend according to Mindful.org. The popularity has more than tripled over the past decade. However, meditation has been practiced long before the 21st century.
“Meditation is something that psychology kind of stole from some of the ancient religions. There have been cultures that have been meditating for thousands of years and arguably more than that,” continued Spencer.
NAIT is giving students the opportunity to give meditation a try with their ‘Quiet Your Mind’ initiative. Not only are they supplying a quiet space called ‘The Reflection Room’ but they also have a Buddhist monk come in every second Wednesday to guide the practice.
“Why not learn from the best? Even if you’re not religiously committed, Buddhism is pretty-easy going in terms of those sorts of things,” said Spencer. “So if you see a fellow walking around in a saffron robe, that’s him.”
Bhante Nanda has been a monk since 2004. Practicing meditation began to play a major role in his life when he was just nine years old. He now practices sitting meditation at least 30 minutes a day and he tries to maintain awareness throughout the entire day.
“It’s not an effort to clear your mind, that’s not realistic but that is a common misconception. It’s more about learning to direct your attention, learning to quiet your thoughts and not necessarily emptying your head but concentrating on things that bring you a sense of calm,” said Nanda.
Nanda believes he can really see an immediate difference in student attitudes and mood from when they first come in to when they leave the session. However, the benefits increase as the practice becomes a repeated habit.
“If you meditate very often, it will help you to keep your mood up. Otherwise, if you only do it from time to time, it will take more time to change your attitude.”
Quiet Your Mind is a drop-in opportunity open to all students and takes place from 11-12 p.m. every second Wednesday in CAT 406.