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‘Meditation Mondays’ offers the tools to focus, reduce stress

By Staff | Mar 1, 2019

Pictured, from left to right, are psychology professor Anne Murtagh, Shepherdstown resident Catherine Wilson and counselor Rhonda Jackson. Thomas Girod

SHEPHERDSTOWN Meditation Mondays, hosted by Rhonda Jackson and Anne Murtagh, opens the door for students and community members to center themselves in the Cumberland room of Shepherd’s student center every week.

On Mondays, from 12:05-12:50 p.m., the Cumberland room in the student center is host to Meditation Mondays, a group session dedicated to help Shepherd University’s students and community members practice ways to focus their thoughts and reduce the stress in their lives. Led by counselor Rhonda Jackson and psychology professor Anne Murtagh, the gathering has been in session for close to ten years and is still aiming its sights at reducing the communities’ stress. Jackson and Murtagh practice a wide number of different ways to meditate, offering multiple ways to reduce stress to those in attendance.

During Monday’s meeting, Jackson and Murtagh discussed why they started the group.

“Anne and I started this group, because we both have meditation practices,” Jackson said. “We were having lunch at the bakery and found that it was going so well that maybe our students would benefit. Then we decided to start the group, and we’ve had it ever since.”

Murtagh sat down chocolates for the “chocolate meditation,” before lighting a small candle for the group.

“Common misconception about meditation is that we need to clear our thoughts,” Murtagh said. “Our brain is a thought factory, which is its job.”

According to Jackson, meditation is about separating oneself from the distracting thoughts, which we unconsciously produce. The relationship between oneself and those thoughts can be changed, Jackson suggested.

“It’s about being able to observe the thoughts and be able to let the new ones through, without getting so consumed and overwhelmed by them,” Jackson said.

Also in attendance was Shepherdstown resident Catherine Wilson, who has been attending the meetings close to their inception. Wilson went on to say how the processes taught in the Cumberland room have improved her day-to-day life.

“I look forward to this being in this room every week,” motioned Wilson to the room, with a laugh.

Jackson and Murtagh stressed the importance of consistency of meditation sessions, as opposed to length.

“We recommend people to do is find a spot that’s quiet with no interruptions,” Jackson said. “You don’t have to sit in a lotus or yoga position, but you need to be comfortable. Focus on your breath and allow the thoughts to start flowing.”

For the busy students at Shepherd, it doesn’t take long for the session to be effective, according to Jackson.

“There’s research showing the changes to your brain and body help after just a few minutes, even though you may not realize it,” Jackson said. “I can make better decisions and can think more clearly – only a few minutes of time for a great investment!”