Amongst the textbooks, flash cards, packets and tests, college students’ minds need a break. For those Plattsburgh State students who find the gym too intimidating or yoga too challenging, they’ll want to check out the Meditation Club.
The club, run by PSUC student Raneem Kurzum, focuses on relaxation and does not stress structure or strict agendas. Instead, meetings start with a 20 to 30 minute guided meditation and feature light music in the background. Afterword, participants quietly branch out and can grab a sheet of paper to reflect, pick up a book on the practice of meditation, break out into yoga or take a quick nap.
Kurzum began meditating during his freshman year of college and was skeptical at first. He signed up for a meditation retreat that summer and would meditate for 10 hours a day for 10 days straight. After finishing the retreat, he knew that meditation was for him.
“I was never more confident in anything in my life regarding where I’m going in the future.” Kurzum said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be meditating for as long as I am able to.’”
Member Vrinda Kumar has been meditating since she was a kid as it was very important to her family. She stopped for a while but started again two years ago and joined the Meditation Club.
Kumar deals with the common stressors of life and college such as studying and relationships by attending weekly meetings. She uses it as a way to relax and be content with the ups-and-downs that occur in everyday life.
A common misconception with meditation is that it is a guaranteed way to feel “enlightened” or “happy” immediately after. Instead, it is a way to feel content with the stressors of life. Kumar and Kurzum describe it as exercising your mind.
“I think people confuse peace and happiness. They think it [meditation] is going to make you happy but that’s not up to something that’s up to you,” Kumar said.
Other club members, students Rita Aliperti and Sarahana Shrestha find their own peace during meetings and attend weekly as well. They love the energy that each member brings to meetings and find that it has benefited their lives in different ways.
Aliperti has been meditating for a few years through teaching yoga and incorporating it into her life. But now, after joining the Meditation Club, she is much more familiar with moving meditations and finds physical and mental stillness in seated meditation.
“I’m learning to quiet both my mind and body, and it has brought me much closer to myself in many ways,” Alperti said.
Aliperti said the club offers a place to slow down and be patient, while Shrestha appreciates the family-like atmosphere and stresses that each meeting is more than just sitting in silence.
“It’s more about being aware about yourself and also making bonds with people at the same time,” Shrestha said.
Kurzum suggests frequently checking in with yourself to see what stresses you out the most and what best helps you deal with that stress. Both Kumar and Kurzum feel that it is important to know yourself and to know what works for you.
“I think if you can’t sit with yourself in peace without any distraction then, I think it’s going to be hard going about life,” Kumar said.
The Meditation Club meets Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in room 105 behind the Learning Center.