UNM faculty learn basic mindfulness meditation

UNM faculty received mindfulness meditation tips from Vanessa Haye on Oct. 5th at a workshop hosted by Advance at UNM.

Vanessa Haye, LPCC, a senior counselor and social worker at the UNM Counseling, Assistance and Referral Services (CARS), presented the benefits and tips of basic mindfulness meditation.

Haye began with a definition of mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is not about being totally zenned out, it’s about being with whatever you are experiencing,” she said.

Haye said being mindful relies on deep breathing. Focusing on breathing allows you to be present in the moment because you are focusing on your body, and your body always resides in the present.

Audience members participated in three different exercises: meditative breathing, mindful eating, and body relaxation. In the first exercise, Haye asked the participants to breathe deeply and try to be present in the moment. In the second exercise, Haye gave participants a grape and a piece of candy and told them to eat slowly to promote a unique eating experience. In the third exercise, Haye asked participants to send their breath to certain parts of their bodies for appreciation and relaxation.

To conclude the workshop, Haye explained the physical benefits of mindfulness meditation. Not only does it reduce stress, but breathing deeply creates “the relaxation response” which is the opposite of the fight, flight, or freeze response. This allows the body to relax and focus clearly on the present.

“[Meditation] is not something that you can fail at doing or succeed at doing. There’s no master of meditation because it is just simply the act of doing it,” Haye said.

One of the videos Haye showed to participants in the workshop.