Every Friday for several weeks during the semester, meditation and art have come together to help students find relaxation and peace.
College Park’s Numi Yoga founder, Kelsey Starr, has offered a 30 minute guided meditation in the art gallery at the Stamp Student Union building for the bulk of the semester.
“This semester we did a series where we started with some breathing exercises, and we’ve kind of kept that the same,” said Starr on the base of each meditation class. “We take a moment after that and then move into different meditation or mindfulness exercises.”
These exercises include practicing listening to surroundings or sounds brought into the class, and letting the mind move through sound. Other exercises include walking mindfully and paying attention to your body’s interactions with your surroundings as you do so, and other practices that channel your attention through different movements and sense organs.
“We’re trying different methods so that different types of learners and different types of brains can find something useful for their own stress relief and focus practice,” said Starr on the differing meditation approaches used at each session.
Priya Kumar, a PHD student in the College of Information Studies, has enjoyed coming to the classes offered at Stamp and the community aspect of group of meditation they offer.
“I’ve come to the last three or four sessions, and it was really appealing. I started meditating a year and a half ago and found it really, really helpful to tune into my breath, my body, to realize I don’t always have to be in my head and thoughts are just thoughts, you can let them go. I was doing that on my own and when I saw that there was a space on campus to do that with other people, I was really excited,” said Kumar.
“I also really like the art component to the exercises we would do because that’s not something I really did as part of my own meditation practice,” said Kumar of the artist element present within the meditation sessions. “Even just to see that there were other people on campus who were interested in this, and see the same people coming back every session, it’s just nice to see that there are other people out there who seem to be benefiting from this in a similar way.”
On the element that art, and what meditating within the gallery, bring to the sessions, Starr believes it to be a chance to “ use our mindfulness practices to engage with life as it is.”
Starr also elaborated on past experiences incorporating art into meditation, as well as the element that the Stamp gallery brings to the sessions.
“I have done some teaching in art spaces, like at the University of Illinois, and I think art is already such a meditative experience, or mindful experience, like we engage with it by channelling our focus and looking, and then there’s an experience with our heart, especially through abstraction, or Stamp Gallery does so many social justice minded exhibits, and so I wanted to connect the dots of being able to see what’s around us in a more real way,” said Starr.
While the six weeks of meditation sessions have come to a close, Starr looks forward to hopefully holding more classes next semester. “We’re hoping to do it again next semester, but we haven’t sorted out those details yet,” says Starr on future meditation sessions at the university.
Featured Photo Credit: The featured photo is from Flickr.com
Riley Brennan is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.