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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    A Little Peace and Quiet For Meditation in the Wang Center

    A visitor to meeting room 301 in the Wang Center was greeted with a warm smile and a firm handshake. “I am Sunita, and welcome,” she said. The room was barren but there were colorful blankets on the floor and the faint sound of Hindu chants in the background. About 15 minutes later the room filled with a small group of seven, an intimate gathering for a quiet meditation.

    In the midst of university life, with the multitasking age of students with jobs, school activities, classes and all the stresses of a recession, Sunita Gupta has created a peaceful hour and a half where students can gather and leave their problems at the door.

    Gupta has been meditating since she was seven years old. Having seen her father practice the ancient chanting of the Gayatri Mantra, which means “chant for Mother Earth” in Hindi, she said it has made her a calm person ready to take on the day and focus on the positive aspects in life. Every Tuesday in the Wang Center, Sunita holds meditations for all students, faculty and staff to participate in.

    For more than five years Gupta has been practicing meditation, and for the past six months she has been meditating everyday for an hour at 5:00 a.m.

    “I wanted to bring something to the school that was a good service to the Stony Brook community,” she said. Meditation could improve wellness and bring diversity to the different types of healthy lifestyle choices there are on campus.

    Gayatri Mantra, is considered to be the most important mantra in Hinduism, Gupta said, and its beliefs which are intended to encourage wisdom.

    Gupta, who is a senior research scientist at Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals, which has offices and laboratory facilities at Stony Brook, said that the prayer, when translated from Sanskrit to English, means “May the Almighty God illuminate our intellect to lead us along the righteous path.” The mantra also prays to the “giver of light and life,” or the Sun.

    “Regardless of religion, meditation is a prayer to whichever god or entity a person may want to pray to,” she said.

    The group sat with their legs crossed while Gupta explained the meaning of the mantra to them. For many, it was their first time meditating, but for others it was the most anticipated event of the week.

    “I did a thesis on the effects of meditation and stress on the body, so this was very interesting too since I studied how meditation can be a positive effect to lessen anxiety,” Tiffanie Vlack, a graduate student from the School of Professional Development, said. “The fact that there was a free class after work seemed really interesting.”

    The group was also introduced to Gupta’s meditation assistant, Mithun Bhattacharya, a graduate student of history. He explained that there are different approaches to dealing with stress, for example, the Western approach is to use medications but the Eastern approach is to use meditation that can improve the way people deal with their issues.

    “I would like the students to accept it in their daily life and practice it because it will change the world, since our present world is very chaotic,” Gupta said.

    “These students are the future of our world, once they will change, the whole new generation will change and we will not face this kind of problem what we are facing in the present world.”

    She explained to the students and faculty that life can bring many burdens, but that anyone can overcome it with meditation to bring tranquility and stabilization to the body and soul.

    Gupta said that from observing her parents and how meditation has impacted their lives, she saw an actual improvement in her father’s life.

    “I have seen meditation bring simplicity and compassion for others,” she said. “When there is a large group meditating, it is always good so that it can give more positive energy to your surroundings.”

    She described meditation as the “thought revolution movement” and as the group finished, she told the class that these sessions will help them change how their thought processes and make them more relaxed human beings the more they practiced it.

    As she folded up the meditation mats and said her goodbyes to the group, she smiled to herself and exclaimed how excited she is to be able to bring meditation to the campus community.

    “I feel that I have to do something for society and meditation helps,” she said. “The goal of Gayatri Mantra and mine is to change the world by directing peoples thoughts into the right directions.”

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