As nearly everyone at Mines knows, life at engineering school can be quite stressful. Students and faculty members alike find various methods of dealing with this stress.
The Counseling Center and the Organization of Meditators at Mines (O.M.M.) have partnered to introduce another option for people looking to calm their nerves: Mindful Mondays. Each Mindful Monday is a weekly, thirty-minute long meditation session that focuses on helping attendees learn to calm and center themselves in the midst of anything that may be going on in their lives.
The sessions began at the start of the Fall 2017 semester and they have experienced great popularity on campus, with regular sessions seeing anywhere from fifteen to thirty attendees. The audience for Mindful Mondays ranges from students, to professors, to other Mines faculty and staff members, and even occasional Golden residents.
“[Mindfulness is] a state of calm focus,” described student founder and President of O.M.M, Sergey Koryakin Jr. Mindfulness often allows people to maintain awareness and attention and thereby better manage life stresses.
“Mindfulness can also help one to tolerate the discomforts of life,” Lauren Jensen, University Counselor and Outreach Coordinator, explained. A typical session begins with attendees arranging themselves in a circle in chairs or on the floor, depending on what is most comfortable to them. A designated leader will take the group through approximately ten to twenty minutes of meditation, usually focusing on one or two techniques or exercises to help participants practice mindfulness with a heavy emphasis on the scientific basis and benefits of meditation.
A rotating cast of facilitators who have experience and interest in mediation lead the sessions. Most recently, Mindful Mondays invited Beth Reiken, a Ph.D candidate from Stanford University, to discuss some of the specific scientific benefits of mindfulness and meditation on the parasympathetic nervous system and to lead a session.
According to regular participant Andrew Fletcher, techniques in a typical session can range from centering the breath, to body scanning, to visualizations, and to love and kindness meditation.
The sessions are designed to be accessible to people with any experience level so the techniques do generally account for participants with beginner skill levels. After the meditation portion, participants are given a brief period to ask questions or simply process the experience. After that, the session leader or leaders remind attendees about other similar resources available to them.
According to Jensen, one of the greatest benefits that Mindful Mondays imparts to its participants is that it offers “practical, skill-based tools…that [participants] can learn in a safe group setting and then implement in their lives outside of this time.”
As she points out, mindfulness can be practiced at any time, surreptitiously if necessary, and it can have a real, noticeable impact on practitioners’ stress levels and ability to focus.
Other participants describe similar kinds of benefits that they have experienced in their own practice of meditation and mindfulness.
Gina Heinsohn notes that meditation and mindfulness require that people take them seriously but that they can be beneficial in managing problems such as depression and panic. Fletcher similarly expressed that Mindful Mondays have helped him advance his existing abilities and skills and that the sessions can help participants to hone their focus and be calmer, more creative, happier, and more at peace.
For those interested, Mindful Mondays takes place during the school year on Mondays at 3:00 PM in the Arthur Lakes Library and is open to anyone in the Mines community.
For those interested in further resources, members of O.M.M. extend an invitation to anyone who would like to attend their meetings Tuesdays at 5 PM in the CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering, room 282. No prior experience with meditation is required for either group.