On a windy, noisy Thursday afternoon, Kate Greene and two University of Southern Mississippi students sat down in the grass underneath an oak tree between the Baptist Student Center and the Wesley Foundation. Greene rested atop her bench, set the timer on her iPhone, began a mantra and counted the mala beads.
These three meditate on a fairly regular basis. Greene, a political science professor at Southern Miss since 1989, began meditating three years ago with Daniel Capper, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion.
Raised as an Episcopalian, Greene now finds herself on the Buddhist path, leading a more peaceful, focused life.
“I was just interested in (meditation),” Greene said. “I’d been reading some Buddhist books and thought I’d give it a try. And I knew Dan had the group, so I started going.”
Among the two students who accompanied Greene on that blistery Thursday, Tre McNeal, a senior computer engineering major, talked about how he became involved in Greene’s meditation group.
“It’s pretty much a stress reliever,” McNeal said. “Like, I always read these things online and everywhere you look there’s always something about meditation. So I just wanted to test it out and see how it was.”
McNeal said he has been meditating with the group since January.
“It’s peaceful,” he said. “It gives you a chance to let all the thoughts of the day pass through. They come and then they’re gone.”
Greene said that the mantra she and the students chant is actually the Dalai Lama’s mantra, signifying not just mindfulness but also compassion.
“You don’t have to be Buddhist to meditate,” Greene said.
“There’s actually a movement called mindfulness, which teaches meditation without the trappings of a religion. It’s been sold as a stress-reliever, but another part of mindfulness is love, kindness and compassion meditation, so that you’re not just relieving your own stress, but you’re also giving out the peace that you are finding.”
For more information on meditation, please visit Mindful.org.
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