Professor of psychology Doug Gentile is expanding his work with meditation on campus. Gentile helps lead midmorning mindfulness sessions for ISU WellBeing about twice a month for people dealing with the stresses of the pandemic.
Beginning Feb. 1, he is directing meditation and contemplative techniques that work with anxiety and other difficult emotions through a new offering -- Meditation 301: Beyond Mindfulness - Working with Difficult Emotions.
"People are dealing with a lot of anxiety and difficult emotions," Gentile said. "Meditation is fantastic to practice and allows us to change our relationship with our difficult emotions. A lot of people feel victimized by their own emotions, and that is not a healthy relationship."
Gentile is a certified meditation instructor and an ordained Zen monk who leads meditation groups in Ames and Des Moines. Online sessions are Mondays (2:30-3 p.m.) from Feb. 1 to April 26. Participants can register online.
Gentile will address several themes including how to understand the wisdom of our emotions and the ongoing process of emotional maturation. Participants examine their habits of mind and emotion and produce more positive ones.
"Meditation is a practice of rebalance," he said. "There are myths about meditation that it is always meant to make you feel good. I am going to take people to some tough places because that is how you learn to work with difficult emotions."
Research has shown that meditation can change the brain, and make people feel better and more compassionate over time, Gentile said.
A three-day beginners mindfulness practice for employees also is being offered by ISU WorkLife on Feb. 17, Feb. 24 and March 3 (8:30-10 a.m.) Attendance is required for all sessions and limited to 50 individuals.
The sessions will cover three meditation practices of sitting, walking and body scanning -- tuning into one's body and noticing any sensations without judgement. The first week requires 10 minutes of daily commitment at home, and the second week requires 15 minutes and an additional 25 minutes for body scanning twice during the week. Participants can see physical and emotional benefits taking part in the program.
Twenty-five volunteers are needed for free nutrition and health assessments being offered by ISU WellBeing and the food science and human nutrition department. Juniors studying nutrition and dietetics conduct the assessments for employees.
The assessment, which takes about 30 minutes, includes a blood work report, nutrition and physical activity analysis reports and 100 points awarded for the Adventure2 program. Each volunteer will take part in two assessments -- one each in February and March -- have an in-person meeting on campus and a virtual meeting with three to four students, wear a pedometer for three days and track physical activity and food intake for three days.