By A/P Millagros Rivera, Head, Communications and New Media Programme
I have been in Singapore over seven years. During this time, I have noticed that students have become more stressed and are experiencing depression and anxiety in larger numbers and with greater frequency. As the Head of CNM, I have done what I can to make my own students feel supported by giving them 24-hour access to our facilities, but even that is not an adequate response to the emotional problems I see.
Being a well-rounded student means going beyond studying and getting good grades. University students should do community work, have fun and live fully. But we also have to remember that they have relationship problems, family crises and these issues, along with the heavy workload they face at NUS, can have a very real impact in their mental, physical and spiritual well being. I think the FASS Student Wellness is a very enlightened initiative and I will support it in any way I can. When I was asked if I would lead a meditation series for students, I immediately said “yes!” Sure, I am busy! But I think this is very important and deserves my time. My hope is that students will see meditation as part of the things one can do to have a more fulfilling life/career. It’s not something spooky or weird; it can actually bring a great deal of joy, peace and mental clarity to one’s life/work/study.
I believe that peace and joy are things all people aspire to, regardless of their religious orientation. Since coming to Singapore, I have been studying meditation techniques and attending spiritual retreats and workshops in Asia. I started my spiritual work by holding informal meditation sessions at my home for friends who faced difficult life situations and in every instance, those involved in the meditations felt a positive impact. So I know this stuff works! I also teach a spiritual class at a local holistic centre and in my group there are people of all religions and spiritual orientations. We come together because we know that there is more to life than working, making (or worrying about) money, etc.
So for the meditation series, I have tapped on my friends from the spiritual community to lend a hand and teach students various modalities of meditation to achieve inner balance/peace and mental clarity. This will allow students to choose which type of meditation technique works best for them. This will also help them see that there are many types of people involved in spiritual work. I am a professor and look relatively normal even though I teach meditation. There are, of course, yoga teachers, spiritual healers, and others so called “light workers” who teach meditation, but students will also meet an entrepreneur who teaches meditation and a retired career army man who is now a spiritual teacher/healer.
Tsai Miao Kun, PhD student, Department of Philosophy shares, “If a person doesn’t know how to learn from within herself/himself, then she or he can only seek to learn from the outside world. However, I believe that we, as humans, have access to an energy field which is intimately connected to the universe and it has the capability to return us to a source of inner strength by grounding our “everydayness” with balance. This belief led me to the fascinating meditation group initiated by A/P Millagros Rivera (Head, Communications and New Media) and Mrs Soon Huey Yann (FASS Student Wellness).
Joining this group is the most joyful encounter I have ever had in NUS. What can you get from it? First of all, you will meet people greeting you with generosity and love. In addition, you will have access to teachers from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs, allowing you to play and explore meditation in distinct ways. Sometimes you may feel yourself embracing novelty like a child, and sometimes it may appear as if you are ready to be the teacher yourself.
Come and enjoy! You may be told here that meditation is the best way to help you release all the tension and stress. You will shortly find out that this group is far more than that, and, it is also lots of fun!