Stef Hackney is a Mental Health and Well-Being Advisor in the LSE Teaching and Learning Centre. Stef regularly takes part in the Faith Centre’s meditation sessions and here explains some of its benefits…
The hectic pace and demands of modern life can all too easily result in feelings of stress and never having enough time in the day to get everything done.
We try and manage this by multitasking, continuously speeding up in an attempt to fit more and more into our lives. We spend our time worrying about the future and reliving the past, existing as “walking heads”, disconnected from our bodies and never feeling fully relaxed.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness for Everyday Life, puts it, “While we are blessed with 24/7 connectivity, so we can be in touch with anybody anywhere, at any time, we may be finding, ironically enough, that it is much more difficult than ever to actually be in touch with ourselves. What is more, we may feel that we have less time in which to do it, although each of us still gets the same 24 hours a day as everybody else. It’s just that we fill up those hours with so much doing, we scarcely have time for being anymore, or even for catching our breath”.
One alternative approach to managing this sense of urgency and the resulting increasing anxiety is to give meditation a try. The origins of meditation are widely debated and often attributed to early Buddhism (4th Century BC) but there is absolutely no obligation to identify with any of the aspects of Buddhism in order to meditate, in the same way that you do not have to be training to for the Olympics to go to the gym or get some benefit from exercise. Meditation is a separate and distinct practice that could be one more thing in your armoury against stress alongside exercise, eating well, a regular sleep pattern, feeling connected to others etc.
Taking time out to meditate (even 5 minutes a day) can seem an impossible task that adds yet another thing to your to do list but the benefits can be wide-reaching;
- Increased concentration
- Improved mood
- Reduced anxiety
- Increased immunity
- Increased compassion
- Greater creativity
- Better memory
- Reduced stress levels
- Better sleep
- Reduced blood pressure
Meditation is well-evidenced in the areas of depression and anxiety, addictions and chronic pain and is rapidly gathering evidence in many other areas (fertility, irritable bowel syndrome etc).
Meditation is not rocket science. It is easy to do but is hard to remember to do and even harder to prioritize especially when you are experiencing high levels of stress. I try to go to the LSE meditation sessions (at least once a week but even this sometimes proves difficult!) at the Faith Centre on a Monday and Thursday at 12.10pm. Erika and Tina have different styles but both gently lead you through 45 minutes of meditation and each time I have left feeling less stressed, calmer, more creative and more able to take on the stresses of the day.
It is something I am recommending more and more to the students I see as something to help manage the (extremely high) levels of pressure here at LSE.
Give it a go. It’s free, you don’t have to book and you can just turn up and try it out.
- Meditation sessions open to all are run on Monday and Thursdays between 12-1pm.
- Student meditation run by the society The Meditation Circle are run on Wednesdays from 12-12:30 and on Fridays from 2-3pm.
- Meditation and mindfullness for postgraduate students takes place on Tuesdays from 12-1pm.
Please do come along!