Joseph McVey | The Poly Post

ASI helps students deeply feel their surroundings at Art of Meditation workshop

By Oscar Huerta, April 18, 2023

CPP students received an opportunity to break away from their stress and deeply connect with their five senses at the Art of Meditation: Sensory Meditation workshop hosted by ASI April 13.

The hour-long session was held in Studio A of the BRIC from noon to 1p.m. and was guided by yoga instructor Andra Istrate. Participants were instructed on how to take in their surroundings and relax by becoming enveloped in their senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing.

Specific items were used to help stimulate the participants’ senses by bringing out strong sensations, such as the softness of the blanket and sweet taste of chocolate.

With a soothing ambient track playing in the background, Istrate instructed participants to use a single sense to study the sensations received through the tick of a clock, the texture of the floormat and the sounds of their own breathing. Istrate encouraged participants to get lost in these sensations and become relaxed by being a part of the sensory world.

After several exercises with each of the five senses, Istrate asked the participants about their experience with their sensations. Suchith Sudhir Chethana, a graduate student in engineering management, said he enjoyed focusing on the vibrant sensations as he let a small piece of a Kit-Kat gently melt in his mouth. The sweetness of the chocolate and the smooth melty texture stood out to him as powerful sensations which allowed him to deeply focus his mind on his senses and relax.

Sudhir has some experience with meditation, but as time passes between meditation sessions, it can become hard to begin a new session. Nonetheless, he said that meditation can still be an important exercise for people to do.

Joseph McVey | The Poly Post

“There’s a lot going on in the outside world, but there’s a lot going on internally too,” Sudhir said. “We advise everyone to pause and listen to themselves.”

After the brief discussion about their experience, Istrate encouraged participants to focus on small details of everyday life and notice the changes in the environment. She also said journalling these changes can help focus on the details of these sensations. This mindful activity can relax the individual.

Istrate expressed hope students could use sensory meditation as a valuable tool to relax in their lives going forward.

According to ASI Fitness Manager Iván Serrano, the Art of Meditation program was created when CPP began remote instruction and stemmed from Istrate’s ideas of guided meditation. Istrate wanted to focus on the five senses because it provided students with a more tangible concept to focus on while meditating.

Serrano said he understands how difficult it can be to start practicing meditation, and he hoped that this workshop could help introduce students to the concept by easing them into it through sensory meditation.

“A lot of folks may have the impression that meditation means that you have to just sit down and close your eyes for 30 minutes and that’s the extent of it,” said Serrano. “I think the goal with this is to give people an opportunity to experience it in a way that they can connect with it through all of their senses.”

Serrano also said if nothing else, he hoped students would at least be able to relax for an hour at this event and walk away feeling less stressed as the semester starts to close with final assignments and exams beginning to pile up. Serrano said he believes the strength to meditating is it allows students to realign themselves and focus on what they need to do in the present, which can be vital at this time of the semester for students and even himself.

“Hopefully as people get into it and they really dig it, it’s something they can do more often to center themselves and be in tune with what’s happening directly in front of them, rather than focusing on a million other things that can happen later at any point in time,” Serrano said.

Future fitness and meditation workshops can be found on the ASI Portal.

Feature image courtesy of Joseph McVey

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