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College encourages wellness with 10% Happier: Meditation app

September 21, 2018

Bowdoin students now have access to a significant portion of the 10% Happier: Meditation app. Ben Painter ’19 brought the app to Bowdoin after he interned at a meditation organization over the summer. He considered several different apps but ultimately chose 10% Happier: Meditation for the quality of teachers and variety of meditations available. The app’s introductory courses, which typically cost a small fee, are free for Bowdoin students.

The 10% meditation app is marketed as “meditation for skeptics.” Many of its meditations can be easily incorporated into a busy routine. There are short meditations to help one address different emotions and mental states.

“If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, you could pull up the app and do a guided meditation” said Painter.

He mentioned that he has never made it to the end of one of these guided meditations because he falls asleep every time.

Phoebe Bradberry ’19 and Luke Frankel ’18 both use the app regularly. They emphasized that meditation can be easily incorporated into daily life.

Bradberry uses the app frequently but sporadically. “I’ll be sitting and eating breakfast and do a five minute meditation with my headphones in,” said Bradberry. “It’s not like you have to be removed in the meditation room on the third floor of Buck.”

“I have really noticed a difference in my ability to focus, my ability to comprehend my emotions with meditation, so it’s become like a daily, routine practice,” said Frankel.

Audrey Reuman ’21 likes that the app allows her to choose the type of meditation and then adjust the time so that she can fit it into her schedule.

In addition to these practical applications, the app can be useful for learning more deeply about meditation.

“We have access to a few guided courses by some of the leading figures in the mindfulness world. And you could go through the courses and really get a strong foundation for meditation practices,” said Painter.

Some of these courses are specifically designed for meditation beginners.

“I think it’s really going to be be a useful tool for people who haven’t meditated before and want to try it out,” said Frankel. “They can use the app and to see if they enjoy it and once they get comfortable they can get involved with like the meditation club.”

One benefit of the app is that it includes a wide variety of meditations by teachers from different traditions.

“There’s a lot of different kinds of meditation—investigating your thoughts, actively cultivating positive mind states—and you can bring the principles and the quality of mindfulness in to anything you do,” said Painter.

Reuman said that while the app is useful, she still prefers in-person guided meditations, such as the ones offered on campus. Painter, Bradberry and Frankel also regularly do group meditations on campus.

Bradberry and Frankel are both leaders in the Mindfulness Over Matter club on campus. This club offers meditation almost every day of the week, led by both students and professionals.

Painter said that meditation seems to be becoming more popular at Bowdoin, and he has been working to expand meditation to different parts of campus life. This semester, Painter hopes to lead more meditations outside of the room in the Buck Center as well; last week, he led one in the art museum.

Meditation is beginning to play a role in Bowdoin’s intercollegiate athletic programs as well. The men’s tennis team, for example, does meditation related to athletic performance before their practices.

Counseling Services is very involved with meditation on campus. Bernie Hershberger, director of counseling services and wellness programs, leads meditation and advises the Mindfulness Over Matter club.

Melissa Quinby, as the associate director of wellness—a newly created position—works with the counseling center. Quinby wants to make more students aware of the mindfulness programing, including meditation and yoga, that is available on campus.

“These practices help students with lowering stress, with lowering anxiety, with creating more healthful sleep patterns,” said Quinby.

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