Meditation boasts many benefits, including “reductions in stress and improvements in concentration, sleep and mood,” according to the Campus Health Services website.
Perhaps this is why there are so many opportunities on and off campus for both beginners and returning meditators — whether it’s the meditation room, classes offered by UNC Counseling and Psychological Services or an app on one’s phone.
Tucked away on the ground level of the Student Union in room 1101A is a meditation room for all UNC students, faculty and staff. In this room, one can dim the lights, sit in silence atop a firm pillow on a wooden mat and meditate.
The Meditation Room is also where the Carolina Meditation Club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m.
Logan Tatham, co-president and second-year PhD student, began meditating three years ago and credits meditation with his easygoing manner and happiness.
“I think it’s made me more efficient and effective in what I do,” Tatham said. “It’s also made me much happier.”
Sarah Beth Nelson, a doctoral student of Information and Library Science, also utilizes the meditation room.
“I think it helps me be more focused,” Nelson said.
Linda Chupkowski, a clinical social worker at Counseling and Psychological Services who runs a meditation class, said she found meditation improves students’ sleep. CAPS offers several free meditation classes each semester for students.
One of the exercises CAPS teaches is body scanning — when one focuses on either their head or toes and works sequentially up or down their body, simply noticing different sensations or feelings.
“That’s one of the first things that I think people tend to notice, especially that body scan exercise,” Chupkowski said. “People say, ‘I tried it before bed and I just like only did half of it because I fell asleep!’ We’re like, ‘Great!’”
Walking meditation, which Tatham explained as being aware of sensations within and around you while in nature, is another technique that is taught by the CAPS classes and the Carolina Meditation Club.
Chupkowski said these exercises can be used in one’s daily life. For example, during the trip from her car to her office, she noticed she felt stressed, so she practiced mindfulness meditation by focusing on the feeling of her feet hitting the ground and the motion of her legs.
“The definition I learned for mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally,” Chupkowski said. “I think of meditation as the formal practice of mindfulness.”
While there are meditation classes and a club at UNC that teach the formal practice of mindfulness, there’s always the option of meditating independently. There are numerous meditation apps or podcasts available at one’s fingertips — all aimed at finding one’s Zen.