Breathe in. Acknowledge your surroundings, and your current mental state. Now breathe out. Have you been feeling stressed out lately? Has your program’s work load for the new semester got you wondering where you should even begin? If either of the latter apply to you, then maybe it’s time to sit down, relax, and find a solution to your problems. One such solution lies here at Algonquin College. The spiritual centre located in the far corner on the second floor of the student commons has once again started hosting mindfulness meditation sessions every Wednesday beginning January 20, 2016 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

When many of you think of meditation, the first image that probably pops into your mind is a robed monk levitating in a lotus position above a mountain. In reality however, meditation is simply the act of calming one’s mind, and focusing one’s thoughts, rather than allowing them to race constantly. Mindfulness meditation is exactly what it sounds like, being mindful of your surroundings and being fully engaged in the present moment. You’re personally in control of your life after all, not your mind and certainly not external factors. The session teaches students ways to relax and let go of negative emotions such as stress and depression, through the use of a variety of mindfulness practices. These include the principles and benefits of mindfulness in general, as well as meditation and mindful stretching. Professional studies have shown that when individuals engage in meditation, their levels of stress, anxiety and even depression can be greatly reduced. “Students who practice mindfulness meditation, and not just meditation but the practice of mindfulness itself, have a very different relationship with stress than those that do not” says Zsuzsa Grandpierre a CSD counsellor as well as the leader of the mindfulness meditation sessions here at Algonquin.

You don’t have to be religious or even spiritual to engage in the session either, many simply see it as a relaxing and natural way to cope with their mental states when they are feeling imbalanced. What it all comes down to ultimately, is teaching individual’s ways to slow down from their fasted paced lifestyles, and to simply live in the present, rather than thinking of the past or future. “People spiral constantly, and depression among other illnesses is huge, and I think it is because there is a void in our lives, and we try to fill it with stuff, and a fast paced lifestyle” says Shelley Neilson, the coordinator of Algonquin’s spiritual centre.

If you or someone you may know is looking for a relaxing and natural alternative to coping with stress, or any other negative emotions you may be feeling, then come by the spiritual centre on Wednesday’s at 2 p.m. It’s free, and there is no obligation to attend if you feel the method of mindfulness meditation simply isn’t for you. Realistically, you’ve got nothing to lose, who knows, you might even love it.