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Wednesday December 13, 2017

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Universities are teaching meditation to help students control stress Students control stress

Mantra meditation* has been practiced in India for thousands of years because people knew that it reduces stress, calms the mind and increases inner peace. In the 1970s medical researchers at Harvard University began studying mantra meditation. They found that during the practice of mantra meditation the body has what they call the relaxation response, which gives the body deep rest that is deeper than the rest from sleep. They also found that through regular meditation that deep rest builds up in the body over time, and it is that deepening reservoir of rest that reduces stress and results in the many benefits of mantra meditation.

Stress accounts for over 60% of doctor visits. So building on their studies those Harvard researchers then developed a form of mantra meditation that easily elicits the relaxation response and started teaching that meditation to doctors through Harvard Medical School. Inner Peace Meditation is based in part on that meditation developed at Harvard and in part on decades of mantra meditation practice by the staff of InnerPeaceMeditation.org.

Harvard researchers and others continued to study meditation and found that it can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke, can help relieve stress, depression, insomnia, sleeplessness, anxiety and worry, and can increase productivity, learning, happiness, well being and inner peace. And people report having more mindfulness and deeper transcendence from Inner Peace Meditation and that it's easy to learn.

The last decade has seen the practice and study of mindfulness explode into the mainstream, but nowhere more so than at universities. A growing body of research has linked the practice to reduced stress and anxiety, and increased happiness and empathy. Paired with neurology and brain scan studies, research applications seem limitless across Canadian campuses. Apps, inventions, courses, groups and initiatives are popping up at just about every one.

Two thousand students across 11 universities have joined the Mood Check Challenge and signed up for the app, which twice daily prompts participants to check in. “It asks: What are you doing? Who are you with?” explains Peter Cornish, associate professor and director at Memorial University’s Student Wellness Centre. “Then it graphs, over time, how your mood relates to what you do.” Most of us have vague ideas of what makes us feel good or bad, he says, but “as soon as you track systematically, you’ll really start to see the patterns.”

Soon enough, says Cornish, “you’ll find you’re doing it every time without thinking about it. Then you get good at using it, almost automatically, and can reach for the same skill at any time.” Right before an exam or big presentation come to mind.

Students are great candidates for mindfulness, but professors too are feeling the pressure and looking for solutions. For 12 years, the University of PEI has offered a mindfulness-based stress management course, an eight-week (2½ hours a week plus one silent retreat) class of about 20. “For some reason, we have a whole lot of professors enrolling,” says teacher Frank MacAulay. “The demands in a university are very high and the resources are limited, so profs are feeling the pressure too.” Chronically stressed people have a defaulted fight-or-flight stress response that MacAulay’s class aims to disrupt. “The intent is to recognize that, acknowledge it and relearn your response.”

Comments  

0 #1 Sue 2017-05-27 16:48
Very good blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew
of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
I'd really love to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other knowledgeable people that share
the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please
let me know. Thanks a lot!
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