that semester in india was really informative

She totally gets it

Everyone needs a way to relax.  Columbia offers meditation every Wednesday at 6 pm in the Schapiro main lounge.  Meditative martyr Fainan Lakha looked to unite with the Divine.

I’ve been feeling a little stressed out lately; it’s the end of the third week of classes and everyone is starting to become very enthusiastic (read: annoying) about midterms.   So when I heard about free food and meditation in the Schapiro lounge on Wednesday, the dually de-stressing qualities of chanting and chai were hard to refuse.

Except there wasn’t really any food, contrary to whatever impressions I had.  That’s cool too; I guess I was just supposed to meditate hungry.

I walked in and was greeted by a tall man wearing all white with a pattern painted on his forehead.  He introduced himself as Murli Gopal and started off the session with the ten of us who had showed up introducing our names and what we’d been up to for the summer.  Some of the people had been to these meditations before, others hadn’t.

He then handed out some prayer beads and chant cards to all of us.  The chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” is one you might be familiar with.  This guy running the meditation seems to have been a Hare Krishna!

Getting over this nerdy realization, we jumped into the meditation.  Starting slow, we did a silent visualization and breathing practice to relax and become more present in the moment.  Cool, though it felt a little Tony Robbins-y to me.

Then Murli Gopal explained to us the benefits of this chant: increased memory, greater happiness, freedom from the constrictions of the mind, etc.  We then began slowly chanting this mantra over and over again at various speeds for the next thirty-ish minutes.  Yes it was monotonous, but it did feel kind of calm.

I’ve often found in my experiences with meditation that some meditations can bring on really intense feeling while others can just make you feel calm.  I’d say this one definitely falls into the latter category; I felt like I was missing one intangible something in that meditation, and so I left the thing feeling a little odd.   Still, if you’re willing to give up an hour of your time in order to achieve such a calm, it’s probably worth it.

Schapiro Lounge via Shutterstock