We All Experience Suffering

Why COD students should participate in mindful meditation


Nicole Littlefield, Managing Editor

The impact of current events and multitude of changes to our everyday lives is causing unprecedented stress levels for COD students, faculty and staff. To help, COD now offers three mindful meditation sessions a week and a four-session Koru mindfulness course.

As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Emano was first introduced to mindful meditation when Jon Kabat-Zinn was featured by journalist Bill Moyers on a TV news report. Kabat-Zinn was working at the University of Massachusetts where he taught people with medical conditions (such as cancer, HIV, and chronic pain) on how to cope with their conditions using mindful meditation.

“Mindfulness is being aware of what’s going on in the moment without running away from it, without judging it, but being with it and embracing it,” said Emano. “Regardless of if you like it or not, it’s being in the present moment and being aware of what’s happening in the present moment.”

Although the patients’ medical conditions didn’t disappear, they learned to cope with their challenges and reported feeling better while practicing mindful meditation. Emano began experimenting with mindful meditation and found it helped him as well. 

“I have a little ADD,” Emano said. “I get distracted, and I’m not always very aware. I get caught up in my emotions; I get stressed out. I get frustrated, and I get anxious. Practicing mindfulness, especially self-compassion, has made me a better person because I become aware of the things I am doing and the feelings I have in the moment.”

Manager of the Adjunct Faculty Support and meditation leader, Kate Szetela is also a longtime practitioner 

“I found it [meditation] really helpful for the anxiety I experienced when I was in college,” she said. “It was nice to have that tool to help create calm. I found that having something like meditation is a way to calm myself. Especially to be able to carve out a little time of the day that is just to take care of yourself.”

Since mindful meditation has helped Emano with being in the present moment, he wanted to share the power of meditation with others. With help from meditator Margaret Mackenzie, in 2015 Emano began offering one meditation session every week for COD students and faculty. With the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, COD now offers three sessions a week (two mindful meditation and one self-compassion mindful meditation session), and Szetela is offering a four-session Koru mindfulness course. 

“A lot of times we feel like we need to be in this zen moment where our minds are completely peaceful and free of thought or worries, but really meditation is being able to come, sit, and be with whatever comes up,” said Szetela. “Just to be there for whatever is going on in your mind and to notice and embrace whatever comes up for you. It’s really about letting the thoughts stream on through and really be present for that.”

The meditation sessions are hosted over Zoom, the leader guides participants through mindful meditation. Since the sessions are virtual, participants are capable of entering or leaving the room as needed. The meditation leaders understand that it can be difficult to sit with your thoughts for long periods of time, so the sessions are broken up into 10 to 20 minute meditation blocks. 

“I invite anyone, especially COD students, to try meditation because life is stressful anyway, but especially with everything going on in our world and also the stress of college,” said Szetela.

We are all suffering. From the stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the frustration caused by racial and social injustices, to the individual anxieties we face, we are all suffering. 

“Meditation is important because there is so much suffering in the world,” Emano said. “That is really it. There’s suffering in the world and meditation is one of the ways in which we can try and alleviate our suffering.” 

For more information or the Zoom links email [email protected]

Courtesy of College of DuPage