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Rutgers Meditation Club helps students destress

<p>The Rutgers Meditation Club aims to help students unwind and focus on positive thoughts.</p>

The Rutgers Meditation Club aims to help students unwind and focus on positive thoughts.

School may get stressful, but students looking to unwind — and even improve their grades — might find some inner peace from the Rutgers University Meditation Club. 

At the beginning of each meeting, students are asked about their internal weather and what their intention is for that meditation, said Brittany Friedson, the club’s president, and a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior. 

The club aims to help people start “focusing on more positive thoughts (and) surround (themselves) with more positivity,” she said. “(Meditation is) an increased focus and awareness, (as well as) looking inward and feeling more connected."

The club aims to provide a safe environment for members to maintain their physical and mental health.

Students explore all types of meditations, and the group often looks to its members for input regarding how the meditation practice should go.

Every member's opinion is considered, said Victoria Yoffe, the public relations manager. The club is the most successful when everyone’s feedback is taken into account.

“My role is to reach out to people and tell them about the meditation club,” the School of Arts and Sciences junior said.

There is not just one type of meditation, Yoffe said. Over the summer, she began doing morning meditations to help her body feel more awake in the early morning. There are also night-time meditations to help increase focus and alertness.

Recently, the club had a walking meditation down College Avenue. The aim is to bring increased awareness to the surroundings, Friedson said.

The focus of each meditation also varies, from decreasing stress, raising focus or relaxing. Before meditating, those participating in the meditation practice are able to discuss what they would like the practice to help.

There are numerous meditations, each geared toward helping. All members feel the positive effects of mediation.

It helped Karishma Rana, a Rutgers Business School junior, excel academically, she said. The club treasurer's focus improved tremendously.

“You get to meet a lot of new people who all have similar interests,” said Priya Patel, vice president and a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior.

There is a large variety of people in attendance, she said.

The school week can be very stressful with many commitments, Patel said. Meditation lets her stay organized and motivated.

The club’s work is not limited to the weekly practices. Members learn a lot about meditation, and then are able to implement the skills into their daily lives.

“We had one member who said he was getting over a breakup recently, and coming to our club has helped him with that,” Friedson said.

An elementary school teacher came to the club as well, seeking ways to implement meditation into her classroom and help her students.

People of all kinds come to meditation club, Patel said. The diversity of the participants lends to the very welcoming environment the club aims to create.

“Many people say, ‘Meditation club, that’s not for me. I’m not that type of person.’” Patel said.

This is one of the club’s greatest struggles, she said.

There are also difficulties with the actual meditation as well, Friedson said. Sometimes one cannot achieve a completely calm mind, as meditation takes practice.

“Sometimes it’s harder to just let go,” she said. “It takes some time to get into that habit.”

The club has already begun planning improvements for the upcoming year.

The club hopes to have a guest lecturer this semester, preferably someone who has done research on the benefits of meditation. They also have thought about holding a crystal-healing necklace workshop, she said.

Occasionally, there is not enough room to accommodate all of the members, Friedson said. She is hoping to be allocated a larger classroom.

“Sometimes we meditated outside last year,” Rana said. 

To help make members more comfortable outdoors, they hope to get back pillows.

Friedson also plans on having a larger role in the meditation practices.

“I plan on doing the guided meditations,” she said. This will involve reading to the participants from a script, and guiding them into relaxation.

Friedson started meditating when she was 14.

“I stopped meditating for a while,” Friedson said. “I found myself stressing out a lot, and not focusing on what’s important.”

Faith Hoatson is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

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