Seeking enlightenment in Meditation and Wellness Club

When first walking into UAA’s Meditation and Wellness Club, the first thing I noticed was a very restful, quiet atmosphere. The act of making too much noise in their meeting room verged on the forbidden. There was some soothing music playing quietly in the room and my entrance was met with warm smiles.

The meeting started with introductions and a brief run-down from the club’s president, Kyle Pace. After introductions were taken care of, we began to meditate while Pace guided us through the process. I usually meditate on my own; however, I have participated in guided meditation before. After the meditation, we had a group discussion about many different things. The emphasis being that the space is a judge-free zone and that ‘what happens in the club, stays in the club.’ Afterward, we stretched a little bit to loosen ourselves up and meditated for a while longer before parting ways.

Pace’s calm, relaxing voice helped to settle me into the clarity of mind necessary for meditation. Tommy Herr, fellow club member explains that these meditation sessions, and Pace’s mantra, help him in his studies.

“For me, it’s served as a really good reminder that I’m in control of my thoughts. For example, studying: When I’d study, I’d space out and get so frustrated. Like, ‘Why can’t I focus on this?’ But I think back and think, ‘Just come back to it.’ That’s something that Kyle is usually always saying, ‘Come back to your breath.’ So instead of my breath, I come back to the book or the assignment that’s in front of me,” Herr said.

Meditation offers several benefits for many people. Like Herr, many people use the practice as a way to assist in focusing on studious endeavors. However, there are others who use the practice as a way of opening their mind. Not opening their mind necessarily to enlightenment, but to the world in general. Nelson Crockett, a year-long member of the club, explains that meditation has helped him be a more receptive individual to other ideas and points of view. “I find that it’s a good resource when practicing meditation to network with people, see new ideas and see new contexts because meditation tends to be a private practice for most people, it’s not as out in the open. Here is one of the places I can find it out in the open. I find it useful to bounce ideas off of people to see what works for them and to see what might work for me, rather than just being lost in my own bubble when it comes to practice,” Crockett said.

While most people seek out meditation for physical, mental or spiritual reasons, others simply stumble into the practice. Usually, they find meditation out of curiosity or in one student’s situation, out of an assignment. EJ Dixon became a recent member of the club through an assignment in his Eastern Religions class.

“Being guided has helped me a lot with my meditation. I first started coming to this club because it was for a class assignment for my Eastern Religions class. I came to one session because I had to and I had to write a report on it. I’ve been coming ever since, for a little more than a month. The mental clarity I get from meditating is really helpful. That’s why I keep coming back,” Dixon said.

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Pace, the club’s president, found meditation through the help of his own curiosity and the internet.

“I started meditation basically because I had always heard the word meditation and never really knew what it was or very much about it at all. I was actually living in Arizona with a girl that I was dating at the time, I had moved from Alaska to Arizona and was living with her for a while. It was a very interesting time in my life. I had no direction and was trying to figure out where in the world to go with myself. I knew that meditation was a thing, so one day I just looked it up on Google and started to practice. I have been practicing on and off for about 5 years now,” Pace said.

UAA’s Meditation and Wellness club has been active for nearly two years. It was started by Pace and a friend due to their mutual interest in meditation. Pace explains that he enjoys teaching meditation and he plans on continuing to teach next semester.

“We’ve been a club going on two years now as of next semester. We started the club because it was something that me and my co-creator, Cole Murphy, were very much about. We met through the class that EJ is taking now, and started it because we had an interest in meditation and had no idea what we were doing and then just kept doing it. I come back and continue to make it a part of my world… I find great pleasure in teaching meditation. It’s when I find myself the most focused.”

The club isn’t conducting any further meetings for this semester, but they will be up and running next semester for regular meetings. If you’ve wanted to try meditating, or are already meditating on your own, I urge you to come to one of the club meetings. You’ll find a relaxing atmosphere, judge-free discussions, and some wonderful companions.