Northern Iowan

Fall is the time for meditation and growth

Student Wellness Services pens a guest column discussing the importance of reflection on growth and the benefits of walking the labyrinth.

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Student Wellness Services pens a guest column discussing the importance of reflection on growth and the benefits of walking the labyrinth.

Letter to the Editor

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Editor’s Note: The following guest column was submitted by Student Wellness Services.

November is a time of busy schedules, heavy academic commitments and stretching ourselves to meet the needs of others.

The colors of the trees changing and leaves falling reminds us that autumn is a season of transition. We shift into wearing sweaters, drinking warm beverages and turning our clocks back. These little moments remind us to reflect on how we have transformed as individuals throughout the year. Our thoughts may be filled with observations of what we learned in our studies, what we accomplished as leaders or what we discovered about ourselves.

During this time of contemplation, it is important to implement an attitude of gratitude towards our growth.

Expressing gratitude can result in several beneficial outcomes. Ryan M. Niemic, author of “Character Strengths Interventions: A Field Guide for Practitioners,” places substantial emphasis on the overall perks of spotlighting a grateful mindset in our lifestyle. In this work, Niemic claims that gratitude positively correlates with “positive emotion, life satisfaction, optimism, prosocial behavior, increased cardiovascular and immune functioning, longevity, lower levels of anxiety and depression, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and low neuroticism.”

This means that with every effort to extend gratitude, each one of these aspects of our lives has the opportunity to increase. In other words, we have every reason to practice being thankful. This process can only transform us to have a brighter perspective on life.

Gratitude is a muscle that all of us are capable of developing, as long as we focus on turning our attention to fine tuning it.

There are several ways we can implement every day activities rooted in gratitude. Below is a list of ideas to get you brainstorming:

Keep a gratitude journal

 Call an old friend/ family member

Mail a handwritten thank you card

Compliment a stranger

Donate what you can

Reflect through mediation

Student Wellness Services at UNI offers a variety of opportunities for you to exercise these activities. This month, our office invites you to experience walking the labyrinth.

The labyrinth at UNI is a large cloth canvas designed with circular patterns that has one path leading to the center of the circle and then back out again that participants walk on for meditative purposes.

At first glance, it may seem similar to a maze, yet it is very different. There are no wrong turns, no dead ends and no tricks. The labyrinth is one of the oldest contemplative tools, used for centuries for meditation and personal growth. UNI students who have participated in walking the labyrinth describe it as “relaxing, peaceful, centering, and reflective.”

If you would like to experience walking the labyrinth, Student Wellness Services encourages you to stop by the Maucker Union Ballroom any time between 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15. There is no registration necessary and is completely free for participants. For more information or questions regarding the labyrinth, please contact Joan Thompson, Health Promotion Coordinator, at [email protected]

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Fall is the time for meditation and growth