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There are few things like meditation. Sorry to lead sounding so woo-woo right off the bat, but there have been some moments this week that have needed some smoothing over. Meditation has dried those tears in the cloth right up! Nothing serious, thankfully, but every once in a while I find myself asking, “How in the WORLD am I going to make it to a PhD in Kinesiology especially if genetics is turning me into a zombie?” Then, I remember the wonderful words of Chris Sommer, former US Olympic Gymnastics coach: “You gotta be a dud before you’re a stud.”

I then sit and breathe until I’m looking at the situation objectively, realizing that things are far better and easier when I separate myself from anxiety and uncertainty. Last Saturday, I gave a persuasive speech during my communications class:  five minutes, a Powerpoint and a strong message. My message was “meditate.” Doing research for my presentation, I found scientific data I hadn’t seen before. For example, according to one study, chronic pain relief is experienced by patients after completing a meditation program. The stress relief interpreted by raised levels of NK cell activity and lowered CRP. Huh? I know. Short story: NK cells, or Natural Killer cells, are like the soldiers of the immune system. Patients who reported a higher overall sense of well being were found to have a heightened level of NK cell activity. CRP, or C-Reactive Protein, is associated with the presence of inflammation. (Cortisol, our natural stress hormone – think fight or flight – causes inflammation. CRP is secreted by the liver as a reaction to inflammation).  Also great is the data that shows meditation increases gyrification – the folding of brain tissue – which may help the brain process information faster. I like to sit on a bench outside the science building sometimes and just sit and process information (faster?).

There are so many cool little study pockets on campus, but of course, you’d have to seek out the right one for you. Look around – they’re everywhere! Suggesting a few to a crowd would not do much in the way of providing a secluded place to meditate! You’re probably wondering how to become a meditation dud ;); it’s never been easier. In fact, there’s an app for that! I issued my class a challenge: the Headspace 10×10 challenge. 10 minutes a day for 10 days. That’s it. It’s a free app, and the 10 day trial is free. I started with traditional Tibetan methods about 8 years ago which were mind blowing, but Headspace is a GREAT tool for someone who is dipping their toes in the pool of self-examination. As I said to my class the other day, sometimes the mind can act like a wild dog on a short leash. Meditation cuts the pup a little slack while training him/her to calm down a little. Try it out. You might just become a superhuman. Might.

Raul

My name is Raul Torrento. I am a local, born in DC proper and raised in the area (Aspen Hill, Springfield, DC, Falls Church, Annandale). Music, gymnastic strength training, and Muay Thai are just a few things I enjoy. I also have a slackline and a skateboard. Those get used.

I am a lover of complete and total physical and mental exertion. Finding new ways to achieve that panting glory is what keeps me spry. Music is something I’ve always loved, since my hands first touched the congas at age 4. A father of three, I appreciate every little moment I remember to focus on – because they tend to pass by in a blur as a result of trying to keep up with them. I don’t take myself too seriously, instead I focus on the importance of my work – whether that’s practicing a tuck handstand, fine tuning an L-sit, finding a new groove on my bass, nailing a new recipe, or whipping up a classic cocktail for a complete stranger. Oh yeah – I’m a bartender too. More importantly, I am a student. Of everything. Forever.

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