Mental Health Awareness week has yoga, meditation to help find your zen

Laura Dudley, assistant clinical professor of applied psychology, teaches yoga during an Introduction to Mindfulness class in the Sacred Space. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Take a moment to feel the breath in your lungs and the small movements of your face. Blink slowly, with heavy lids. Focus on the hum of noise in your surroundings and let your thoughts float by. Settle into stillness.

Guided meditation is one of the many practices that help relieve anxiety and bolster emotional well-being, and Northeastern will be highlighting these positive practices as part of Mental Health Awareness week. From Oct. 10-15, the university will host events across the Boston campus featuring yoga, mindfulness, and spirituality through art.

“Mindfulness and related contemplative practices can yield extraordinary benefits for individuals seeking holistic wellness,” says Alexander Levering Kern, executive director of the university’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service. Kern said interest in mindfulness-based practices skyrocketed this fall as many in the Northeastern community continue to grapple with the fallout from the pandemic.

Calling the last year and a half a “season of collective suffering,” Kern says many in the Northeastern community have reached out for guidance.

“I’ve seen a burgeoning interest in and embrace of practices that build resilience and enable students to discover calm in the face of an often overwhelming world,” Kern says.

The mental health awareness events will extend to the university’s other campuses Wednesday, Oct. 13, with a do-it-yourself candle-making station at Northeastern’s Silicon Valley campus and a comprehensive look into the university’s wellness resources at 75 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose.

“The intention is to be able to help students to see that they’re not alone, and that support is available wherever they may be, because we know that our students are on the move and they’re not necessarily here in Boston,” says Christine Civiletto, the interim executive director of Northeastern’s Health and Counseling Services. “We just want them to feel supported.”

Those seeking to speak with a mental-health professional can find help at find@northeastern which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If doggie kisses are where you find your bliss, several dogs including a husky, a golden doodle and the new community comfort dog, Cooper, will be at the Cabot Center tent on Tuesday. The Blackman Auditorium will air a Tuesday night screening of the Pixar animated movie “Inside Out,” which explores the internal and conflicting emotions of a young girl.

The sacred space at Ell Hall will host a guided meditation every day at noon, there will be sunset yoga on the Centennial Quad on Wednesday, and cooking and emotional wellness at the Xhibition Kitchen Thursday night at 5 p.m.

Kern says the spiritual center’s YouTube videos provided many in the Northeastern community with tools to improve their mental health over the last year, and he’s thrilled that this week can highlight some ways to seek emotional support on campus.

“We have so many mindfulness offerings on our YouTube channel that were really helpful during the time of quarantine and isolation,” says Kern. “Now, we can celebrate being able to come together for mindfulness, yoga, spirituality, and other contemplative practices in person.”

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