‘Sitting Still’ New group Introduces Students to Meditation


Gianna Cognetti, Features Editor

Are you already feeling the burn from the fall semester? Maybe a new weekly feature on campus might be the right place for you. “Sitting Still: A Gentle Guide to Meditation” began earlier this semester and meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday in Strebel Lounge. 

The weekly meditation sessions were introduced by Associate Professor of communication Jeff Miller, with the help of his friend, Brother Varisami, a Buddhist monk.

 Varisami, from Schuyler, wanted to reach communities outside of his own congregation and Miller wanted to help students, who he noticed experience increasing levels and stress and anxiety. 

In order to fulfill Varisami’s teaching aspirations and reduce stress among his students, Miller came up with the idea of holding meditation sessions for the entire UC community.

Varisami is familiar with meditation practices and was willing to guide participants in the meditation process. The number of attendees vary each week, with some weeks having more than others. 

Miller said Varisami brings something to say, or mantra, to the group as they meditate each week.  

The instructor told the group that when they try to concentrate on one thing, a hundred other things come to mind. He advised making breathing the only object in the students’ minds. 

Miller related this idea to studying and said, as an example, when studying, it is useful “to recognize your mind wandering to your Instagram account, set it aside and focus on what your studying.”

Part of meditating is sitting quietly for a period of time and the practice affects everyone differently. There are no rules or expectations, just finding a sense of community and peace of mind.

“I feel like I’m calmer and a much nicer person after,” Miller said.

Student Gabriella Hudziak attended one of the “Sitting Still” sessions after seeing flyers around campus. Hudziak is interested in trying new things and was curious to see what the meditation process was like.

“I was mostly excited,” Hudziak said. “I also thought it might be good for me considering how stressed I tend to get.”

After only one hour in Strebel Lounge, she said she felt relaxed and it opened her mind to understanding why people tend to engage in religious practices.

“I felt really good after the session,” she said. “Funny enough, it helped me understand why people would pray the rosary.” 

Hudziak said she enjoyed her time attending “Sitting Still” and hopes to make time in the morning to attend more often.

There are multiple reasons and terms for meditation. While tt is not intended for religious purposes, it is a method of calming the mind. Many people tend to turn to meditation for spiritual insight.  Another form of meditation is called “serenity,” but overall it is all meant to do the same thing.

“For me, the beauty of it is that you don’t need to know any of that and you can still do it,” Miller said.

Miller will continue “sitting still” throughout the semester, and said he is hoping to continue into future semesters.  

“Our school’s motto is ‘never stand still,’ but it’s okay to sit still,” he said.