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Pause for a Cause: Meditation Group Brings Students into the Present

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Meditation is not something you see busy Moravian students doing very often. That’s not true, however, for the students who attend Dr. John Black’s twice-weekly meditations groups.  

I first witnessed Black’s love and practice of meditation when I enrolled in his course on Medieval literature last semester. I walked in the first day of that class assuming he would start by explaining the syllabus. Instead, Black set a 1-minute timer on his phone and asked us to shut our eyes until the timer went off.  

Dr. Black, a professor in the English Department, later explained that he does that so students have a minute to clear their minds, become present, and focus on the course material.  

I will admit that the first couple of classes I didn’t utilize that silent minute, which felt more like 5 minutes, honestly. After a while, however, I started to close my eyes instead of just watching everyone else do it, taking that minute to really focus on my thoughts — and then realizing that I should have done this from the start.

Eventually, I came to think those 60 seconds were way too short.  

My experience in Black’s class led me to appreciate the value of meditation and understand why he is involved in the meditation groups, which have been held on campus for over 15 years. Black joined the first one years ago when he came to believe that taking just 10 minutes a day to reflect on how you are feeling in a moment and to reflect on life or the week you have had can produce powerful results. “There is so much clutter in life and things happening at a fast speed,” he said. “Sometimes we forget to think about ourselves.”  

Breathing deeply for as little at 15 minutes a day can calm us, Black contends. Studies show that meditation also helps people who suffer from  anxiety, stress, pain, insomnia, and, in some cases, cardiovascular disease.

I was curious to see how these meditation groups worked, so I joined a session. Black and his co-facilitator Dr. Ron Klein, director of the Counseling Center, invite all Moravian students to attend the group sessions, which meet twice week in Reeves Library.  

When I arrived, two students were already there. Dr. Black and Dr. Klein entered shortly afterwards and began playing a CD that guided us on how to breathe. There was a little music but mostly a soothing voice telling us about what to focus on. For 10 minutes we sat in silence, concentrating on our breath.

As someone who doesn’t do yoga or meditate, I struggled to relax at first. My thoughts ran in a million different directions, and I kept opening my eyes.

Once I saw how relaxed everyone else in the room was, however, I deliberately closed my eyes and began to feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

I found myself further focusing when the woman on the CD said, “Breathe in for 6 seconds and focus on your diaphram, releasing tension as you breathe back out.” We were then guided to focus on some other area of ourselves as the deep breathing continued. Afterwards, we sat in silence for 5 minutes until the session was over.  

Looking back, I know I would not have meditated on my own if I hadn’t been in that session with other members of the Moravian community. But because I was, I left that room with a feeling of relaxation that stayed with me long afterwards.   

Dr. Black and Dr. Klein’s meditation groups meet in Reeves Library, Room 219, every Tuesday and Thursday, starting at 12:30. Sessions last for 15 minutes.   

If you have any questions or would like to be on the reminder emails for the mediation groups, please contact Dr. Black at [email protected]

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One Response to “Pause for a Cause: Meditation Group Brings Students into the Present”

  1. John Black on March 29th, 2019 2:18 am

    Thank you, Tamara, for your interest in the Meditation Circle and for engaging here with readers about the concept and practices of meditation from your perspective as a student. I hope it will encourage others to join us! The fundamental, overarching purpose of meditation is to nourish the quality of our interactions with others – directly, in the case of those we know and with whom we work, play, and live, and also indirectly, in the case of those we may not know personally but whose lives are impacted by our choices, decisions, and actions/lack of action. Peace begins “at home.” Best, John Black

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