As part of his PSY 326 course, “Mindfulness in Clinical Interventions,” Peter Lin, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at SJC Brooklyn, brought students to DharmaDrum, a Buddhist monastery in Pine Bush, New York, Oct. 13 for an annual retreat.
“For the past 10 years, I’ve used this retreat to immerse our students into the concepts we explore in class,” Dr. Lin said. “By bringing them to this monastery, students can concentrate, be one with their own thoughts, and experience the healing properties of mindfulness free of everyday distractions.”
Once at DharmaDrum, a dozen SJC Brooklyn students settled in for a full day of meditation. The central theme was “where your body is, your mind is” as its guiding tenet.
No Phones Allowed
“One of the things I enjoyed most about the trip was that I had to put my phone down for the day!” said Francesca Lauricella, a sophomore psychology major at SJC Brooklyn. “I don’t truly notice what is going on most of the time because I’m constantly looking at my phone. A few times during the day I wanted to take pictures, and I realized that was part of the problem. Once I focused on where I was and on what I was doing, I was able to fully engage and appreciate the experience.”
An aspect of the DharmaDrum experience that left a particular impression on the students was the communal meal. Consisting of vegetarian food, the meal was served to all of the guests at the same time. It brought the guests together in a shared appreciation of their common purpose.
The concept of “noble silence” or the importance of talking to one’s self exclusively was another key area explored. Through a range of meditational exercises, students gained a deeper understanding of how their minds worked and were able to share the wisdom they gained during a group reflection session at the end of the visit. “I learned so much about myself at this retreat — what habits I need to change and how through meditation I can simply take a break from the world,” said Lauricella. “Meditation and mindfulness aren’t just things you do when you’re sitting down or at a retreat, you can easily incorporate into whatever you are doing.”