MEGAN HOYT | Scroll Photography

Students benefit from meditation workshop

MEGAN HOYT | Scroll Photography

MEGAN HOYT | Scroll Photography

Meditation is a way students can learn to be more thoughtful, manage stress and come closer to God.

Meditation and Mindfulness workshops are held every Wednesday in the John Taylor building room 120 from 5-6 p.m., according to the BYU-Idaho weekly email.

“I started coming to help with pain,” said Andrea Stephenson, a senior studying humanities. “I have chronic pain. I kept coming because of the closeness I have felt to my Savior.”

The physical act of meditation generally consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, a word or a phrase, according to Psychology Today.

“The benefits of meditation are innumerable,” said Gary Purse, a BYU-I professor and an instructor of the Meditation and Mindfulness workshop. “It’s almost like saying sunshine is good for you, it actually changes the brain. It hardwires it for happiness and less reactivity and more proactivity.”

After studying the effects of one month of mediation on a group of volunteers, many subjects showed significant improvements in general intelligence, according to the National Institute of Health.

Stephenson said meditation is about using the enabling power of the Atonement and using it every day to learn how to use agency more skillfully.

“Meditation helps me to open up space in my life and my attitude in the way I approach life,” Stephenson said. “To turn it over to the Lord, to consecrate it to God, to say, ‘Heavenly Father, I consecrate this time to you.’ Each time I do that, He blesses me with peace, which in turn helps me take life at slower pace.”

Stephenson said she is able to see the beauty and joy in life even when she is experiencing extreme pain.

She said she knows there are more important things in life, and despite the pain, she will be okay.

Purse said meditation is not a clearing of the mind, but rather a settling of the mind.

“It’s actually creating space between our thoughts, moods, feelings and our response to those thoughts, moods and feelings,” Purse said.

Stephenson said meditation is the practice of refocusing the brain.

“You can choose to focus on your blessings,” Stephenson said. “You can choose to focus on serving others and thinking good, positive thoughts about others. These times we set aside to meditate help to rewire the brain so that when we are living life we are able to be more aware.”

Purse said meditation helps to keep an eternal perspective and use agency more skillfully.

“It’s just so obviously the gospel,” Purse said. “Prayerful meditation is right out of the handbook.”

Purse said meditation does not take the place of spirituality, but is meant to open space for more spirituality.

“Increasing spirituality leads to wiser choices, more peace and more joy,” Purse said.

Stephenson said meditation is a way for the healing powers of the Atonement to take effect in people’s lives.

“That’s why it’s so effective for overcoming addictions,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said meditation can work for all situations whether it be getting spiritual promptings or stress about school.

“I think meditation helps you see the light more clearly,” Purse said. “Even in the difficult, dark times.”

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