Mindful meditation offers chance to escape

Shannon McCosky, Copy Editor

Madison College has taken a step toward mindfulness with the introduction of Mindfulness Practice Groups. The group meets Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for mid-day silent and guided meditations.
I began exploring mindfulness and meditation over the course of the past two years. These practices have changed my mindset toward life. I’m more willing to linger for conversation, notice when others need help and help them, make choices throughout my day that align with my short and long-term goals, understand why I feel how I do, and how to act instead of react. These changes can be contributed to being more “in the moment” throughout the day.

A video starring ABC news anchor Dan Harris (Hack Your Brain’s Default Mode with Meditation) shares the findings of a study by Yale that concluded that, while meditating, the region of the brain associated with the default mode, “doing that thing that human beings do all of the time, which is obsessing about ourselves, thinking about the past, thinking about the future, doing anything but being focused on what’s happening right now” not only turns off, but remains turned off after meditation. Harris says that, “they’re focused on what’s happening right now. In sports this is called being in the zone. It’s nothing mystical. It’s nothing magical. You’re not floating off into cosmic ooze. You’re just being where you are.”

Anon, a Madison College student, shared that “it’s wonderful to be able to drop in and notice where I’m at during the day and find some regular peace and quiet, and realign my experience.” This student discovered mindfulness in mid 2012 through the VA hospital’s outpatient Wellness Program. So skeptical at first, Anon faked participation in four meditation groups before deciding to give it a real try. A relapse into addiction and a resurgence of mental health symptoms in conjunction with scientific data about meditation in “Real Happiness” by Sharon Salzberg pushed Anon to begin a daily practice, and is still practicing two and half years later.

Attending a Mindfulness Practice Group in the middle of the day is like stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air. The group is made up of Madison College students and faculty, and is welcoming to new faces no matter their level of experience.