Oct 072012

Author: Allison LeCain

The mind is a powerful thing, constantly racing with thoughts about school, work and social life. It controls everything we do, and yet many people focus all their energy on how their body looks or how well-liked they are among friends.

As a college student, the mind is more frantic than ever, but through meditation, anyone can achieve peace and happiness.

Quinn Hutchinson, senior phycology major, created the Kadampa Meditation Club at CSU about a year ago in order to share the culture of meditation with her fellow students.

“The benefits of meditation are really powerful and I think they’re so necessary at this age where we have so much going on,” Hutchinson said.

Meditation is a Buddhist practice of calming the mind in order to gain clarity and peace. It only takes about ten minutes to feel the effects of meditation, and is best if practiced at least once a week. One  goal of meditation is to become a happier person who is more in touch with their mind.

Gen Kelsang Rinzin, a resident teacher from the Heruka Buddhist Center, teaches weekly meditation classes at CSU.

Gen Kelsang Rinzin, a resident teacher from the Heruka Buddhist Center, teaches weekly meditation classes at CSU. Photo by Allison LeCain.

Hutchinson started practicing meditation four years ago when she saw a flyer for a class. Raised as a Catholic, she said she thought the idea of meditation was a little funny at first, but, over time, she said noticed a great difference in her quality of life.

“I was calmer and more stress-free and it really changed my life,” Hutchinson said. “I went from being a big partier to trying to get in touch with something deeper.”

Now Hutchinson said she considers herself a Buddhist, but meditation can be practiced by people of all religious backgrounds. When starting the meditation club, she collaborated with the Heruka Buddhist Center to have resident teacher Gen Kelsang Rinzin, a western Buddhist monk, come to CSU to teach meditation classes every week.

Kelsang Rinzin said that since starting the classes last October, the number of students coming has increased a lot, showing that meditation is becoming more popular in the Fort Collins community. His class sizes at the Heruka Center have grown as well.

Each class that Kelsang Rinzin guides at CSU has a name, such as ‘Developing Concentration’ and ‘Improving Mindfulness.’  This is what drew graduate student Laila Dillsi to take part in the classes.

Dillsi has been practicing meditation off-and-on for 10 years and meditates about four times a week.

“It’s really applicable to our lives as students,” Dillsi said. “[Meditation] keeps me more calm.”

Hutchinson describes similar effects of meditation, as she says it helps her to manage her schoolwork and social life.

“Things don’t bother me as much as they used to,” Hutchinson said. “It’s a lot easier for me to let things go in my external environment.”

As Kelsang Rinzin explains, this is one of the major benefits of meditation. Through meditation, a person can develop peace of mind and the ability to let go of disturbing thoughts. A negative thought can be changed into a positive one, full of kindness. This can change your outlook on life, according to Kelsang Rinzin.

Kelsang Rinzin said meditation can be a good way for students to let go of stressful thoughts; Hutchinson agreed.

“If I start to get stressed out I have five minute brain-breaks,” Hutchinson said. “Five minutes of meditation is so helpful for me throughout the day, like focusing on my breath and tools that I didn’t have before. Our brains are so powerful when you tap in to that.”

The mind is so powerful that Kelsang Rinzin compared it to a wild elephant, as in anything a person can do, he or she can only do because their mind thinks it first. Our mind is in control and our bodies are just machines fulfilling the minds commands. This why Kelsang Rinzin said it is important to get in touch with your mind through meditation.

He helps students do so through weekly classes held in Lory Student Center room 208 on Wednesdays at 3 p.m.

Hutchinson said that at these classes, meditation helps students let go of anxieties and utilizes all the powers the mind has.

“It’s all the power of our mind,” Kelsang Rinzin said. “If we can learn to let go of negative thoughts and cultivate positive thoughts from meditation, then there is so much opportunity to be peaceful, healthy people.”



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