Megan Balparda, President:
I would like to be the first to say that I am unqualified for my position both as the president of the Prajñā Meditation Club and as a writer for this opinion piece. It is because of this that I am so grateful for my board members, Kiley and Zhenghao — the latter of whom has agreed to add their own opinions.
I have found myself as a president of a club I never attended, on a subject in which I am not well-versed. For me, meditation is an aspiration, not something one can achieve. It is a method by which people search for inner peace and connection to the world around them. Meditation is, simply, a thought exercise, used to expand the amount of time one can spend in their own company, without distraction or outside entertainment. It is an important piece of my understanding of spirituality.
In the short time that I have been meditating, I have found a sense of connection with my own thoughts, my community, nature and humanity that I didn’t know I was missing. This connection is what I hope to offer others with Prajñā Meditation Club. Meditation provides a route to mind-body harmony, and helps me feel connected to the world around me. The beauty of meditation is that it can mean so many different things for so many different people. Already, I’ve met students and faculty alike who think of meditation in an entirely different way than I do. With Prajñā, I hope to create a community space for all students to explore what meaning meditation could hold for them.
Because I’ve been given the opportunity to work with Prajñā, I hope to learn from others in the meditation community here at Middlebury, starting with Zhenghao, my vice president. He has the experience with meditation that I hope to gain, and I’m very excited to be working with him to bring this club to life again!
Zhenghao Lin, Vice President:
I’m really lucky and happy to work with Megan and Kiley! This club would not be possible without their administrative support and good vibes.
I started mindfulness meditation with the meditation apps, Balance and Headspace, back in my freshman year of high school because I had debilitating anxiety. I hope students will benefit from apps such as Headspace as much as I did — you can even get a 85% discount for Headspace with a college email. Neither of the meditation apps are perfect, but they are a good place to start.
I’m still learning about meditation and its roots, but so far, I know that mindfulness meditation has roots in Southern and Western Asia, specifically in Buddhism and Hinduism. Nowadays, the modern world isn't giving enough credit and honor to the roots of meditation, so I feel like it’s important to begin with this history.
Meditation, in my opinion, isn't for everyone and doesn't always work for everyone. But many people I know seem to think of meditation as a strict practice where you have to be 100% concentrated on one certain thing, and you can't have any thoughts in order to do it "correctly."I want to clear up these misconceptions that I’ve seen in my own experience so I can get others to meditate as well. I also want to share why and how I meditate.
There isn’t one correct way to meditate; it just comes down to finding the effective kind that suits each individual.
We do not have to focus 100% on one object. It's better to think of focus in meditation as having a consistent and calming point of focus (like a verbal mantra, our breaths and body sensations), and see that as an *option* to go back to if you notice your mind drifting to other things (emphasis on *option*, because you can choose whether or not you want to focus on that thing).
We don’t always need to have a clear goal to meditate — sometimes you just want to for the experience, for the connection (group meditations) or just because.
It is an experience of relaxation, so we do not have to force ourselves to focus 100%. You literally can fall asleep while meditating, and that is awesome because it makes you relax.
Like Megan wrote, I also feel a sense of connection, especially to people, when I meditate. The way my body rests on a solid surface (it is not floating in air) and the way my chest rises and falls (it does not stay still), just like everyone else.
Personally I meditate because I’m very sensitive to stimuli and need more silence to process and think. Meditation also doesn’t have to be done in silence but that’s my go-to; there are a lot of people who meditate with music, or some physical movement.