New workshop to share Buddhist techniques and strategies to combat modern anxieties
December 10, 2021
As a challenging semester comes to a close, Counseling and Wellness Services and the Rachel Lord Center for Religious and Spiritual Life will invite Western Buddhist monk Gen Khedrub to campus in an effort to help students navigate stress before exams. Khedrub’s workshop “Ancient Wisdom & Modern Stress,” which is described as “part talk, part practice,” will be held this afternoon and aims to provide students with a Buddhist approach to navigating academic and personal stress.
Assistant Director of Wellness Services Kate Nicholson, who is co-sponsoring the event with Director of Spiritual Life Eduardo Pazos, believes the workshop will help students combat the stresses of college life in a unique way by providing a space to practice mindfulness. The workshop will feature a guided meditation session and a Q&A.
“I think having a place to practice finding peace would be well-received at Bowdoin. This workshop is a place for respite and pause,” Nicholson said. “I hope and feel that this [workshop] is important and wanted by students.”
Nicholson’s own experience with mindfulness and meditation served as a catalyst for this workshop. However, Nicholson wasn’t always an advocate for meditation. Introduced to the practice by a friend following her graduation from Haverford College, she was initially skeptical of the idea.
“I was feeling very stressed and overwhelmed, so I was talking to a friend and she said, ‘Gosh, that sounds really stressful. You should meditate with that and see what comes out for you,’” Nicholson said. “I thought she was the craziest person. I was like, ‘That is the last thing I could do right now.’”
Having initially brushed off suggestions to meditate, Nicholson eventually came to fully appreciate the practice’s benefits to her mindfulness and wellness.
“Fast forward a decade later, and somehow I managed to get into contemplative practice,” Nicholson said. “Now, I’m much more comfortable finding a sense of quiet with myself.”
Because of her experiences, Nicholson does not seek to impose meditation on students. Rather, she believes in sharing opportunities for fostering sustainable relationships with ourselves. Whether it be a guided meditation app or a walk around the quad, Nicholson just wants students to be curious about wellness.
“Being prescribed meditation never feels great or convincing. So, I’m not interested in that,” Nicholson said. “What I do think is worthwhile is providing students lots of opportunities to taste-test, to sample, to be interested. If I had a prescription pad, I would prescribe ‘curiosity.’”
One of these students is Amelia Jacobson ’25, who is using this workshop as an opportunity to nurture her relationship with mindfulness. Similar to many other students, she wants to manage her academic stress in a healthier way. Jacobson does not have prior experience with Buddhism and hopes to apply practices she learns from Kedhrub’s workshop to her own spirituality.
“I don’t know a lot about Buddhism, if I’m going to be perfectly honest,” Jacobson said. “Opening my eyes to a whole other … region and set of practices is interesting.”
Counseling and Wellness services have been helpful in managing this stress for Jacobson. Resources like “Mindfulness for Everyone” have helped Jacobson take a break from academics and be more present with herself.
“Opportunities like meditation, the talks and the guest lectures have helped me get out of the ‘homework is the only thing’ mindset,” Jacobson said. “I’m ready to learn about where stress comes from, how to combat it, or just even how to live with it.”
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