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Unwind, unplug at weekly stress-relief sessions at IMU

Oct. 2, 2014

A soft chime travels through the Hoosier room of the Indiana Memorial Union as clinical psychologist Linda Brown lightly taps the meditation bells three times.

After a short reading about trust Brown begins softly speaking to the room of faculty and staff members, encouraging them to concentrate on their breathing and to bring themselves into the present moment.

Meditation chimes

Each of Linda Brown's stress-relief sessions start and end with the ringing of the meditation bells. | Photo By Eric Rudd, IU Communications

“As we sit here, using our breath to anchor the moment, being lightly aware of what’s pulling for your attention and then, the best you can, bringing yourself back to the present, this sitting here,” she told the group.

Each Thursday at 12:15 p.m., Brown leads a Mid-Day Mindfulness Practice session at the IMU. The 30-minute sessions consist of insight meditation practices aimed at helping faculty and staff unplug and de-stress.

“We keep it very simple, very quiet, uncomplicated a time for people to practice just being," said Brown, Mindful Way to Stress Reduction facilitator.

Each session starts, and ends, with the ringing of the meditation bells and a brief reading by Brown. Participants gather around a group of six tables pulled together in a square. With eyes closed they sit in silence as Brown guides them in letting go of their to do lists and that morning’s rush hour and instead focus on the present moment.

“The type of meditation that we practice in the class, insight meditation, is a way to get to know how the mind works and be more familiar with how it tends to think about the past and the future -- planning, planning, planning,” Brown said. “If we stay up in that planning mode all the time in our heads, there is no opportunity to relax, to bring down the sympathetic nervous system -- that fight-or-flight response.

“The quiet time is just a time to kind of let go and … then a person is more capable to go out of here and to be more balanced and calm throughout the rest of their afternoon.”

Jane Rogan, director of engaged learning, is a regular attendee of the sessions. The 30 minutes of quiet time is all about about slowing down the brain, which she said actually leads to more productivity.

“I think our brains are really great file cabinets and I think often times we have all the drawers of the file cabinet open at once,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a good job to close them all and start back over again and that’s what this does for me.”

The Mid-Day Mindfulness Practice sessions are free and open to all faculty and staff. Sessions are offered on a drop-in basis; no advance notice is required.

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