“The Practice of Mindfulness”

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Amanda Peskin uses a yoga mat on Thursday, July 14, 2016 inside the Campus View exercise center.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Amanda Peskin uses a yoga mat on Thursday, July 14, 2016 inside the Campus View exercise center.

Kyle Doyle

Relaxation: a 10-letter word that means a number of things to a number of different people. To some, it’s woodworking, or maybe it’s drinks on a beach. To others, it’s taking an hour out of their day to meditate and push out their negative thoughts.

And that’s precisely what’s coming to Grand Valley State University.

A series of six seminars entitled “The Practice of Mindfulness,” put on by former GVSU counselor Dr. Sue Dilsworth, is taking place in the Richard M. Devos Center over the course of the winter semester starting Monday, Jan. 16 and ending Monday, March 27. The seminar is designed to help students, faculty and staff relax, meditate and relieve the stress of their day.

“We live in a very (high functioning) world,” Dilsworth said. “I don’t think our minds were wired to be on all the time, so this is an opportunity for people to rest and digest in the middle of their workday.”

The seminar will include several different types of meditation, all aimed at helping the participant release the stress of the day. Such techniques include mudras (hand gestures), yoga nidra (sleep with a trace of mindfulness), asana (a type of seated yoga), pranayama (breathing techniques) and gong meditation (meditation in which a gong is rhythmically played while a person is lying down).

“Gong meditation is sometimes referred to as a sound bath,” Dilsworth said. “Ninety seconds after the gong, you lose your train of thought—and the water in your body moves in such a way that you become insanely relaxed.”

The GVSU Health and Wellness center approached Dilsworth with the idea for a series of seminars in order to promote mental health and wellness for the campus community. 

Susan Sloop, a work life consultant at GVSU, said this seminar was a great way to help manage stress and quiet the minds of faculty and students who are under a lot of stress throughout the semester.

“The benefit for the entire campus is to live in the moment,” Sloop said. “So many times we are thinking about a million different things.”

After leaving GVSU in the spring of 2010, Dilsworth opened a private practice and yoga studio called “Heart’s Journey Wellness Center” in an effort to provide people with both psychiatric help and yoga therapy.

Dilsworth found that people would come to her to talk and they would tell her their story and it would just be a story. She found that combining the two helped more than doing just one or the other. Certain types of meditation, such as yoga nidra, have been shown to help veterans coming back from overseas with PTSD and are an opportunity to get rid of the negative thoughts. One hour of nidra is equivalent to five hours of sleep, Dilsworth said.

“People aren’t born with anxiety, depression or eating disorders,” she said. “Yoga and meditation helps shed those layers so people can get back to that blank slate.”

The seminar is a way for GVSU students, faculty and staff to get a taste of what Dilsworth teaches at her studio and to unwind and find their definition of relaxation.

“Remember to breath,” Dilsworth said. “If you’re thinking about your breathing, you’re not living in the past or the future: You’re living in the moment.”