Meditation workshop offers breath of fresh air, clear outlook

Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi on Wednesday
Taken by Jessica Bagdovitz | The Oswegonian

In Zen, meditation helps return a person to oneness and suppress the ego.

More than 100 students crammed into room 114 of the Campus Center for a Zen workshop instructed by Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi, abbot of the Zen Center of Syracuse and the Dai Bosatsu Zendo monastery in the Catskills, Wednesday night.

For those worried about the economy, ongoing wars or their own personal woes, Roshi offered meditation as a way to compartmentalize and cope.

“I’ve been suffering from anxiety disorder,” junior Molly Martindale said after the workshop. “I thought this was an interesting approach to coping.”

Maria Grimshaw-Clark, interim director of the Oswego State Counseling Services, suggests meditation as a way for students to stay in-tune and focused on being self-aware.

“Students are too connected and attached to their computers,” Grimshaw-Clark said. “I recommend that they focus on their breath for even just five minutes a day. Ideally, you should do it for an hour, but even five minutes will help.”

During the workshop, Abbot Roshi spoke about the importance of returning to a mental state of meditation routinely, as well as cultivating the ability to meditate anywhere at any time.

“We are all interconnected to each other,” Roshi said. “When we are meditating, we are returning to oneness.”

She also discussed the idea that meditation is a way to suppress the ego in order to gain new perspective on complex or frustrating situations.

“When we think we have to have things turn out our way, we’re setting ourselves up for disaster,” Roshi said. “We must have compassion for each other. Compassion is our oneness.”

At the end, students lined up to put their contact information on a sign-up sheet for next semester. Grimshaw-Clark plans to organize weekly sits for the spring semester, instructed by Samuel Gordon from the Zen Center of Syracuse.

“I thought it was really helpful,” junior Talia Berk said. “I’m going to be meditating more now that I know how.”