Conscious mind fest helps students relax

Emily Lorenz, Staff Writer

College of DuPage hosted its first annual Conscious Mind Fest on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10, holding workshops and presentations to help students learn to control their mind and stress levels.

The fest was sponsored by many COD organizations such as the Office of Student Life, Asia Committee, Philosophy Club and Humanities Club. Office of Student Life worker and coordinator of the Conscious Mind Fest Stephanie Quirk explained this opportunity was presented to students to help them in their everyday life. The living Leadership Program was designed to help students strengthen their leadership skills. The fest was designed to “explore the philosophical thoughts of the Hindu religion and highlight how mindfulness and mindful practices can contribute to leadership development and overall wellness,” according to Quirk.

Author, meditation teacher and inspirational speaker Gadadhara Pandit Dasa is a retired monk who lead the events, including the workshop I attended “Stress Management for School-Life Balance.”

This workshop featured different aspects of a student’s life and ways to maintain stress through meditation and maintaining a healthy diet, such as going vegetarian or vegan, and lifestyle, promoting exercise. Pandit explained to us different meditation techniques that help focus the mind and help students increase their ability to focus and improve relationships in their lives.

Pandit explains that a vegetarian or vegan diet adopted by someone wanting to calm themselves is a way to cleanse the body and reset it to what it’s naturally supposed to be. Pandit also explained to the group the benefits of daily exercise and what it can do for the body along with a new diet.

This workshop was an informational meeting whereas the ‘Mediation for Health and Wellness’ workshop was an hour and a half practice of different forms of meditation mentioned earlier in the day. Pandit lead this practice for students as a way to teach them the proper form of meditating and how they can achieve the calmness on their own time and in their own home.

A form of meditation Pandit discussed and demonstrated and that we practiced for a few minutes during the Monday afternoon workshop was a breathing exercise where the stressed person counts while breathing in and centering themselves. This form of meditation was explained by Pandit as a way to free the mind and showed how a simple five minute practice can help change the mentality of any person willing to let themselves practice this method, which it did if done correctly.

Pandit tried telling us not to think of the past or the present while doing this counting and breathing exercise, which is something that many, including myself, later admitted to being difficult and hard to concentrate on not doing.

Over the two day fest more than 200 students attended the four different workshops with the “

Principles of Conscious Leadership” workshop being the most popular. Quirk feels that the overall turnout and main message of these events were well received by the COD community and hopes to continue on with the fest in the future.

“I am thrilled at the fantastic response to these events from the COD community,” Quirk said. “We saw many students, faculty, administrators, staff and community members over the two days and participants always had great questions during the Q&A of each workshop. I personally hope we continue to focus on mindfulness and holistic wellness at COD to assist students in coping with stress and living happy and fulfilling lives.”