At the midpoint of each week in Rhodes Hall’s Crowley Conference Room, Dr. Jeanelle Boyer offers students the opportunity for some rest and relaxation.
On Wednesdays at 12:30 pm, students and faculty arrive at the Crowley Conference Room for their weekly relaxation session. The Midweek Meditation is, in the words of Boyer, meant to “quiet your mind”, as “the nature of the mind is to be busy.”
The Midweek Meditation is a guided relaxation session, which can feature a variety of different mediation techniques aimed to make students feel relieved of some of the stress they may have felt so far in the week. Boyer uses methods such as guided breathing, visualization, rhythmic movement, and body scan meditation, among others.
Upon arriving, Boyer encourages participants to participate in the meditation in the way that would be most beneficial to them. For some, it means to stay in their chair, but others may sit down on the floor or even bring their own yoga mats and lay down on them. Boyer also noted that some students may benefit from keeping their eyes closed during the session.
Boyer begins the session by asking participants to inhale deep breaths through their nose, in a soft whispered voice. Boyer notes that while taking these breaths, participants should soften their bellies. About halfway through the session, Boyer introduced the singing bowls, an inverted bell-like musical instrument which is played by dragging a mallet around the outside of the rim. They started off as soft and sporadic hums, but crescendoed into prolonged, deeper notes.
Boyer concluded the session by describing the beauty in the world, along with other positive affirmations.
When talking about how the Midweek Meditation came about, Boyer mentioned that a former Keene State College professor, Tom Bassarear, had been the host of a meditation event when she first came to work at the college. Following his retirement, Boyer, a practitioner and former teacher of meditation, took over, as she “saw a need for stress reduction” on campus.
Boyer sees a lot of benefits of meditation among students. “It’s an evidence based practice. There’s actually a lot of research and studies which show that meditation is very beneficial. It can help calm the nervous system. If we look at physiology it slows the heart rate, it can help lower blood sugar, breathing slows,” she said. “Looking at long time meditators, you’ll see brain changes, you’ll see DNA expresses changes and it’s all beneficial. Just talking to people, they feel better, they feel calm, they feel peace. Everyone is stressed out, faculty and staff are stressed out and it’s open to everyone.”
Boyer noted that there are a number of traditions within Midweek Meditation, such as an opening conversation where participants can discuss if they’ve been feeling stressed lately and what would make them feel better. “I like many different meditative practices.
Sometimes I’ll guide something more mindfulness based, which is really just engaging in the present moment, focusing on breath and listening,” she said. “Some days we’ll do a type of meditation called mettameditation which is more affirmation, almost prayer, which we offer to ourself and other people. We try different things.”
Senior Hannah Prinz mentioned really liking her visit to the session. “I really enjoy a break from everything around me. I love the hustle and bustle of campus, but it is nice to sometimes have a space where everything is quiet,” she said. Though Prinz is not in attendance every week, she said she is interested in becoming a regular. “
Zach Murphy can be contacted at