Tarleton State University’s Student Counseling Services is hosting weekly guided meditation sessions online, until Dec. 1, 2020.
The weekly guided meditation sessions are intended to help clear the mind and de-stress before finals. They are held every Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., and begin with a brief introduction, that lasts for around five minutes, as more people join the zoom session.
To join the guided meditation students and employees can go to Tarleton’s calendar and click the register button. The registration asks a few very basic questions including your email address.
“[The guided meditation series] is evidenced based and used for increasing relaxation and focus. For a lot of people it also helps decrease anxiety. The first five minutes is an introduction and a debrief about what mindfulness is. Then one of us leads a meditation for the next 15 minutes, the meditation might be a mindful breathing exercise or a full body scan. Then we close out with a debrief,” Assistant Director of Student Counseling Services, James Dinh, said. “We keep things casual. You don’t need to have your camera on or your microphone and you can unmute or talk in chat if you have questions.”
The guided meditations were previously held in person, but had to be moved online because of COVID-19.
“For this meditation it’s largely the same as when I’ve done it in person. [The biggest change is that in person] I was able to have music or a singing bowl playing in the background, but I’ve found that it’s difficult [to have those present] over video,” Dinh said.
The guided meditations are open for anyone who wants to join, not just previous clients of the Counseling Center.
“They don’t have to be a client to join, any student, staff or faculty can join even though we primarily serve students. Either me or one of my interns will guide the meditation and people who may want added coaching have the option to set up additional meeting times,” Dinh said.
The guided meditation sessions allow students to learn techniques for coping with stress and take with them for future use.
“A lot of people, especially around finals, have difficulty coping with stress and around the holidays having a space where you can enjoy a moment of fullness and grounding helps a lot. Guided meditation also provides a space where students can practice the skills we teach,” Dinh said. “
The best places to meditate are in quiet rooms with few distractions.
The techniques we teach are things you can do on your own, it’s helpful to have a guide [at first] but then you can take a piece of mind to help aid the anxiety in your head or remember to stop and breathe and be present in your body.”
Meditation is not limited in the types of clients they accept either. People with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) are also encouraged to attend.
“A good number of people who have ADD or ADHD love mindfulness and meditation. Really the idea with mindfulness is to allow our mind to notice our surroundings. People with ADD have almost a superpower that allows them to notice everything. Then there’s the skill of noticing your surroundings without judgement and coming back to yourself,” Dinh said. “If you have ADD give it a try or figure out what your version of mindfulness is. Set aside a space free from distractions you can do this by even physically turning away from distractions.”
There are more ways to remove distractions from your life than just practicing mindfulness.
“Another way to remove distractions is on your laptop create separate profiles, one purely for school work with no icons to games. Then also have your regular profile so if you want to take a break you have to log out of your work profile and log into your regular one. You can also write things down for easy access and practice going back to what you have written down,” Dinh said.
Some people believe that guided meditation can, over extended periods of time, lead to a healthier mind and better long term coping skills.
“[Guided meditation] helps people to focus and gain memory retention. There are often claims of people using it to study. Being able to practice mindfulness helps the brain’s cognitive functions and over time creates neurological changes to help respond better to stress,” Dinh said.
Tarleton’s Student Counseling Services offers more than just guided meditation services, they also provide therapy sessions and services for undiagnosable illnesses. This includes having people in the residence halls to help with any concerns students may have.
“We are still providing [all of our] regular services including individual, group and couples therapy sessions. With couples only one member of the couple needs to be a student at Tarleton to be seen. We are not limited to diagnosable disorders, if [a client feels] stressed or if [their] work-life balance is [disproportionate] we take a holistic view to treatment,” Dinh said.
The counseling services Tarleton provides cover most services that an external counseling center would and when Tarleton is unable to provide the services needed for a client they reach out to other centers in the community that may be able to help.
“We do provide treatment for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and we refer clients to the community if need be,” Dinh said.
We have survivor advocates, this means that an advocate is assigned to anyone who may need help with situations such as harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking. Our advocates help you know that you have rights and aren’t mandatory reporters so [the client] has that choice to report or not.”