By Gabriela Rodriguez
Every week, Texas A&M University-San Antonio offers meditation sessions to relax and de-stress from everyday tasks. However, students seem too stressed and busy to even show up.
For students who are willing to give relaxation a chance, the Office of Student Counseling and Wellness Services provides a 45-minute session of a variety of meditation techniques from 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Thursday in the Central Academic Building, Room 105C.
Catherine Love, counselor of student engagement and success, and Kristina Lozano, graduate intern pursuing a master’s degree in counseling at A&M-San Antonio, started the Meditation for Stress Relief group.
The program, implemented this fall semester for the first time, began due to the positive response mandatory meditative sessions had over the summer in freshmen orientation.
“We received an overwhelmingly positive response,” Love said.
Love said the ultimate goal is always to teach students techniques they can practice themselves in the comfort of their own homes whenever they need it; if they ever need to learn new techniques they can find their way back for more.
Nevertheless, most sessions this fall seem to have a few students at the most.
Lozano and Love clear the room of all game tables and only leave relaxing music and comfortable exercise mats. During one visit, a reporter witnessed an attendee snoring through the whole session.
While only one student attended the meditative session, the student lounge area remained full of students who wouldn’t dare to step foot in the game room, but did dare to peek in the glass door every now-and-then, as a reporter observed.
Computer science junior Michael Chaney, a regular attendee, sees nothing wrong with being the only student in the session and goes frequently to learn new techniques.
“I’m here just because I’m curious,” Chaney said.
Chaney said the sessions began with three to four students. As the semester got busier, fewer students attended. As students learn the practice they are able to “internalize the practices,” he said.
A different meditation strategy is presented each week allowing students to explore a variety of ways to relax and the most effective method for them, “every week we cover a different strategy to kinda mix it up,” she said.
The options of meditative exercises serve a purpose. “The goal hopefully, by the time we end this group this semester, is that students will have a menu of options to choose from,” Love said.
Week one concentrated on the “Calming Breath” technique: the ultimate goal of starting with the basics. It consisted of relaxation and deep breathing for stress reduction.
The method used the second week is called Qigong, [pronounced chee gung], which means cultivating energy. It involves slow repetitive movements and incorporates deep breathing techniques to help with stress reduction.
Another technique being used is “Progressive Muscle Relaxation,” which teaches ways to intentionally tense up muscles, or a specific area, with the ultimate goal of releasing the tension built up in those muscles.
Guided meditation or guided imagery is used in some sessions to achieve a state of calm and peace of mind as well as go into an imaginary place where they can find some sense of peace and mental clarity, Love said.
Autogenic training, a technique similar to guided meditation, involved the repetition of mantras to reduce stress and give a sense of calm.
The latest session involved “Mindful Tasting,” which focuses on the here and now by tasting different food items and paying attention to the textures and flavors instead of tuning out the senses on an everyday activity.
Students who have participated in the sessions receive a cordial call from Love or Lozano every Wednesday to remind him or her of the upcoming meditative session. An exercise mat is provided and no reservation is needed. “Feel free to drop in,” she said.
For more information, call the office of Student Counseling and Wellness Services at 210-784-1331.