UHCS practices mindful meditation

Alex Goodwin- Salas, Staff Writer

Mindfulness meditation has become a popular way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in today’s society and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is following the trend by offering a meditation class for students and faculty.

Family Nurse Practitioner, Rebecca McAllister, works with the University Health and Counseling Services to offer a free meditation class from 12 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. every Tuesday. The class is located on the second floor, room 2028 of the Ambrose Health Center.

McAllister started her own practice in 1999, has gone on many meditation retreats and has been teaching meditation for more than
10 years.

“Mindfulness meditation helps with all aspects of health: emotional health, physical health, spiritual health,” McAllister said. “It’s really a fundamental tool for health.”

The class is 45 minutes and is open to everyone. McAllister will introduce what mindful awareness practice is and the basics of sitting meditation.

She explains, while meditation is apparent in Buddhism and all religions, mindfulness has always been part of human tradition.

McAllister said the meditation begins sitting down in silence, there is either a walking or stretching meditation, followed by another sitting meditation. Participants will be able to sit on “Warhawk purple” cushions while meditating and McAllister uses a bell to signify the change in direction of the class.

“We are complex thinking machines and we tend to shift and turn things around,” McAllister says. “What’s really important is that this is a gentle and kind practice.”

Mindfulness meditation is helpful for when one cannot turn off their mind while trying to fall asleep. The exercises given in the class allow one to learn to cut thoughts and focus on breathing to relax.

The class focuses on sitting meditation, but lying down meditation will help relax the body more and will make falling asleep easier. McAllister also said it can be helpful when one has negative self-talk and might not know it.

“It can be very helpful for stress reduction,” McAllister said. “Although the most benefits are seen over time.”

Similar to meditation, yoga is a practice that is famous for fueling the mind and soul. Ensley Gossett, senior and yoga instructor at UW-W, explains the similarities and differences between yoga and meditation.

“I believe that yoga is a type of meditation,” Gossett said. “Instead of the expected stillness of meditation, yoga offers mental relaxation through movement and discipline.”

While both practices bring similar benefits, moth disciplines have distinct differences.

“Yoga, like meditation, will benefit students ‘emotionally by reducing stress and anxiety’ but will also benefit them physically. However, the biggest difference between the two disciplines is yoga is relaxation through postures while meditation is through stillness and concentration” Gossett said.

McAllister also mentions the availability of videos online and Apps available for smartphones to utilize if anyone cannot attend the class, but wants to learn
mindfulness meditation.

If there are any questions about the class or mindfulness meditation, students and faculty can contact McAllister by email at [email protected] or call her at 262-472-1848, Monday through Friday.