Mindful meditation in Walker Hall


Sammy Hanf

Boots are sitting on a desk, students are sprawled out on everything but chairs and sitting cross-legged on the ground in a lecture style classroom with a vacant podium, with nothing but bowl at the center of the proceedings.

The club, Zen and the Art of Applied Communication, is run by communication professor Chris Patti. The club focuses on practicing mindfulness meditation.

When Patti came to Appalachian State University he said he brought a strong interest in Zen meditation with him and included the practice in many of his classes. He jumped at the opportunity to share the practice with students in a less formal setting.

Patti said he was encouraged by students of his to set up a space for the practice of mindfulness meditation, an imperative in what he said is a fast-paced world that can be especially trying for students that are going through a major formative stage in their life.

“I’ve been teaching for 10 years and I’ve seen the stress level of undergrads go up pretty significantly in that 10 year period,” Patti said.

Emily Mason, a communication studies major, said that practicing mindfulness helped her deal with social anxiety and that it’s a healthy way to just hang out and relax.

The practice is on the rise across the Western world, a phenomena Patti attributes to more sophisticated tools for studying the brain being able to produce empirical evidence of meditation’s positive effects in stress reduction and relational decision making.

Patti said the practice is secular in nature and compared meditation to a sport, with different ways to practice it according to one’s own interests.

For some members that metaphor fits more literally. Austin Gentri, an outdoor experiential education major, said that outdoor activities like hiking or rock climbing are a way for him to practice meditation. He said it helps him in navigating rocky terrain where he can be responsible for the well-being of others.

“Your decisions have quick and immediate consequences, so to make the best decisions to keep everyone safe and having a good time you have to be mindful all the time out there,” Gentri said.

Nathan Godwin, a communication studies major, said he likes meditation because it keeps him more focused on what’s happening right in front of him and says that when he doesn’t, he notices that he is much more likely to get distracted.

“I’ll look at my phone twice as much instead of just looking up and talking to people,” Godwin said.   

The club meets every other Thursday in Walker Hall, room 103B.

Story by Sammy Hanf, News Reporter