For most people, the word “meditation” conjures up an image of crossed legs while murmuring a soft hum and visualizing a sunset.
The University of West Florida Health, Counseling and Wellness Services offers a different approach.
Every Wednesday at noon in the Health and Wellness Center, the general public is encouraged to come and “take a break from the week.” Since the group’s leader, psychologist Patrick Preston, was out of town, Feb. 20 was a unique meditation session.
Adrienne Olinde is a graduate student in the psychology program. She is also a mental health counseling intern for Health, Counseling and Wellness Services. Last week, Olinde led the session. She had the participants sit up straight in a chair of their choosing.
Olinde told the participants to just let their minds relax and to clear their thoughts. She closed her eyes and told everyone to do the same. As the noon sun crawled through the window panes, everyone was still and silent.
“I feel like it renews me and gives me energy,” Olinde said. “It’s interesting because you think it would put you to sleep, but I really do feel energized throughout the rest of my day.”
Nancy Mantle is a retired school teacher, who heard about the mediation session through a friend and decided to give it a try. She said last Wednesday was her first time, but she will likely be coming back.
“Our brains race back and forth all the time,” Mantle said. “If you sit long enough, sometimes your mind just goes blank, which is really wonderful.”
While some went to the session to take a break from the day, Tom Pelkowski, a senior in psychology went to keep his mind in shape.
Wednesday was Pelkowski’s second time attending a session. He said he believes that spending 25 minutes in meditation will slow down the mind and be beneficial for the rest of the day.
“It’s scientifically proven that it is good for you,” Pelkowski said. “It clears the mind and ceases thinking.”
The weekly meditation sessions are held at the Health and Wellness Center in Building 960, room 208. For information contact UWF Health, Counseling and Wellness Services at 850-474-2420.