Meditation Mondays: A casual environment for students to destress

Students can look forward to learn ways to destress and relax through the help of virtual, guided meditation courses provided by UConn’s Student Health and Wellness Center. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

For any students looking for a comfortable way to destress during the unprecedented semester that lies ahead, the Student Health and Wellness Center is offering Meditation Mondays, a completely virtual, hour-long guided meditation course. The class takes place every Monday from 4-5 p.m., and is available to all interested UConn students. 

When logging in to the virtual session, students are greeted by the instructor of the class, Dr. Becky Acabchuk. Acabchuk has been teaching various classes in yoga and meditation for 15 years. She has also conducted research into both the mental and neurological benefits of meditation, as well as which meditative techniques prove most effective.  

“A lot of my research has been done using meta-analysis where we pool data from every study that’s ever been done on college students, to see what are the overall effects of meditation,” Acabchuk said. “This allows us to determine what specific outcomes are most effected by meditation, what’s not effected, and where is there not enough evidence yet to say either way.”

One of the main goals of the class seems to be focusing on the present, instead of the other worries that can cloud up our minds during the day. The class implements a variety of techniques to help the students achieve a more relaxed state. This includes breathing exercises, light movements and practice with visualization. Although this is a guided meditation, there is also a heavy focus on fostering an individual experience. Throughout the session, students are regularly encouraged to visualize the mental exercises in whichever way works best for them. For example, while doing a breathing exercise, students were encouraged to visualize their breathing in whichever way felt most natural.  

“As much as it can help you in your everyday life, it can also help you internally with your overall health,” Kelly Sanchez, a first-year graduate student in the MSW program, said. 

Another key focus of the activity was helping the students develop meditative skills over time.  

“My hope is to empower people by teaching them how to work with their own internal skills,” Acabchuk said. “Mindfulness meditation training helps develop this skill that increases your ability to handle challenges as they come in life.” 

The class was often reminded that being able to forget about the rest of your day in order to give your mind a rest is a skill that can be developed through practice — that practice being regular meditation. 

Each class concludes with a brief check in. Students are given the opportunity to share what they were able to take away from the class, as well as which specific parts of the lesson worked best for them.  

“If people are interested in changing their lifestyle, or adding something new to their overall agenda, it’s very important for activities like this to be an option,” Cassandra Garriga, a first-semester student in the ACES program, said. “If you care about self-care, or self-love, these types of activities are important.” 

For anyone interested in a relaxed experience that fosters inner peace, Mediation Mondays are hosted weekly via WebEx. The link can be found on the UConn Student Health and Wellness website. 

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