Finding inner peace is what some college students need to help de-stress from the burdens of school and work. With this in mind, the Zen Mindfulness Meditation series continued this past week, with a session on Tuesday, Nov. 3. A handful of students interested in the series attended the session hosted by peace and reconciliation studies professor, Hugh Curran.
Curran has been hosting meditation sessions for almost 15 years. Throughout that time, the meditation series has evolved to what it is now. Up until two years ago, the series was held in the Drummond Chapel located in the Memorial Union, but is now being held in the Memorial Room. This is the first year the meditation series has been given the name “Zen Mindfulness.”
“Only this year that I’ve called it Zen Mindfulness to emphasis the mindfulness part, even though in a way all zen is mindfulness. Mindfulness is more of a practice that people can absorb more readily because it is just being more aware of the day and mindful of others. It is a practice of emphasizing respect for the body, your neighbors, friends and so on. So Zen Mindfulness would be the emphasis this time,” Curran said.
The meditation sessions have gained a following over the years. About 12-15 students have shown interest and have been attending the series year after year. Yahya Ahmed is a newcomer to the handful of students who participate in Zen Mindfulness, and has enjoyed his experience.
“I definitely recommend the meditation sessions to the UMaine community,” Ahmed said.
Offering the meditation to college students like Ahmed has been beneficial to their health, especially in times where there are a lot of distractions. Curran talked about how it was around the time in his college years that he first got interested in meditation and wanted to learn more about it. He deeply benefited from his five-year-term as a monk, living in Japan and India as well as working as an assistant at a meditation center in Rochester, NY. Currently Curran is a retreat leader at Morgan Bay Zendo in Surry, Maine.
“I work on concentration meditation. It helps me get my concentration. It is very beneficial for what I call deep concentration. Not shallow concentration like academic studies, but deeper on the sense of getting the mind focussed on one particular topic and keeping it there,” Curran said.
Curran hopes the UMaine community can benefit from the Zen Mindfulness meditation series.
“I’ve been teaching for a while and I’ve had people in science and engineering, and I even had a student who won [an award] in Forbes Magazine. He was ranked among the top ‘30 Under 30’ scientists, and he actually said that he benefited enormously from meditation,” Curran said. “It’s not a matter of people changing their lifestyles, it’s more where and how they apply their energy in a more loving, kind and compassionate way with more wisdom. If students begin to do that, it begins to change their lives for the better.”
The Zen Mindfulness meditation sessions are held in the Memorial Room in the Memorial Union on select Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, contact Hugh Curran on FirstClass.