The Eye of a Storm: Chan Meditation

A storm had been ravaging my mind lately. It had been swirling and churning for the past few days, screaming at me during every moment of the day to study, study, STUDY, and so on Thursday night, instead of tackling the pile of work sitting at my desk, I decided to go to the weekly Chan Meditation session held at the Multi-Faith Centre.
A mindful moments poster; blue with a pink lotus.
Pay attention to posters. They point to all sorts of neat things on campus (as evidenced by my venture to a meditation session)!
Chan Meditation is Chinese Zen Buddhism, and as its blog explains, it aids to “relieve tension and clear the mind in a healthy manner,” which, clearly, I needed with the amount of chocolate and soda I’d been consuming the past few days. To be honest, as I hovered outside the meditation room, I wondered if I was putting too much faith in the Chan Meditation session; I couldn’t have been more wrong. The room exuded a sense of control and orderliness with its pale grey walls and neatly-lined cushions, and upon entering it, I was greeted by kind smiles and inquiries as to whether I was new.
The meditation room with cushions laid out in two lines.
The group was kind enough to let me take a picture of the room before starting the meditation session!
A buddha on a towel.
Here’s a close-up of the Buddha statue at the front of the room! Photo courtesy of Judy Pham.
After a few introductions, the instructor went to the front of the class, and we followed his lead, standing behind the cushions—hands together, feet apart, and eyes closed. The instructor led us through a variety of physical movements while telling us to be aware of our bodies’ motions as we moved. This proved difficult for me. I kept thinking about the work I had to do for tomorrow, for next week, for next year—all that good stuff. So naturally, my mind was restless and my limbs were jittery, to say the least. It wasn’t until we sat on the cushions, cross-legged, and eyes closed, and the instructor led us to become aware of our bodies once more that I was able to penetrate the storm encasing my mind. I focused on the sound of my own breath and how it filled my chest and left it steadily, endlessly. And after a while, mindfulness washed over me. I became aware of my knees pressing against the wooden panels, of my thighs sinking against the cushion, of my hands on my kneecaps, and of the towel draped across my lap. The incessant nagging terrorizing me for weeks had faded away, leaving me in a sense of serenity. When we sat in a circle and discussed what brought us to this session, as well as what we felt after it, I decided to open up about my stress over school. However, as I began to talk about it, I realized I wasn’t even stressed about it anymore. Two hours of meditation had dispelled the storm of anxiety ravaging my mind, leaving a clear sky where I could think more clearly than ever. Needless to say, I left the session feeling mentally refreshed. The calmness meditation offered me during the session lasted long after it ended, and I was able to get through that pile of work at my desk more efficiently and calmer than ever. So if you’re stressed, give Chan Meditation a try. I guarantee it will help you dive past your mind’s tumultuous exterior made of anxiety and stress and worry over midterms and into the eye of the storm, where you will discover something difficult to find amidst the hustle and bustle of university during February—peace.   Have you ever tried Chan Meditation before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below or through @lifeatuoft on Twitter!

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