Finals are here and classrooms are jammed with stressed, sleep deprived, tattered students. Before you run yourself ragged, consider giving your mind a healthy dose of meditation. This could be a beneficial alternative to the six pack of beer or massive piece of chocolate cake we go for at the end of a crappy day.
Stefan Zijlstra of Snow Buddha Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga knows all too well the stresses that come with university life as a former student here at UAA. He holds meetings at his home where he teaches participants to let go of mindless chatter and find a sense of calm and peace.
“Balance, harmony and a clear mind are some of the effects meditation produces. Ultimately, you are able to face reality without grasping for addictive alternatives like food or materialistic things,” Zijlstra said.
Zijlstra said the meditation he teaches is extracted from Buddhism. This can seem off putting for people because they feel they have to convert to Buddhism which is often mistaken for a major religion. Enlightenment is something universal that anyone can embrace and can be achieved through practices such as meditation.
During a typical class, Zijlstra discusses some of the theoretical sides to meditation for a half hour, followed by 45 minutes of still meditation. For those who have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time, he offers mindful yoga which incorporates light movements while meditating.
“Yoga and meditation melt together very well. Rather than focusing the mind on holding poses and stretching longer, your mind shifts its focus to the body’s senses and how it reacts,” Zijlstra said.
Tara Lampert who teaches women and gender studies here at UAA enjoys Zijlstra’s classes and feels it is something students should approach with an opened mind.
“It gives me calm in the center of the storm,” Lampert said.
Each meditation group is different and there are other groups to check out around Anchorage.
Richard Zelinsky of Meditate in Alaska said they meet every Monday at Kaladi Brothers on Brayton. Their group is a branch of Kadampa Mediation Center, located in Seattle.
Like Zijlstra, he teaches people to look past the short term gratification materialistic things provide and to strive towards happier, healthier lives.
“What is valuable, a diamond or a bone? For a dog a bone is much more valuable. For some, $100,000 is valuable while for others it is not enough,” Zelinsky said.
Zelinsky encourages newcomers.
His contact information could be found at meditateinalaska.org, if you want to check it out.