Counsellors are encouraging university students to undertake Tai chi and meditation to relax their mind as the end of year pressures loom.

Tai Chi and meditation professional Chris McGrath, who gives his spare time to volunteer teaching Thai chi and meditation for the local ‘Coolum HeARTs’ organisation, said the relaxation techniques have been around for a long time.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.30.06 PM.pngPictured: Chris McGrath, at Coolum HeARTs Tai chi class.
Photo credit: Lacee-Ann Froeschl.

“Tai chi and meditation come from ancient traditions to do with personal management of our own body and awareness,” he said.

Mr McGrath said the outcome of such activities could be likened to taking vitamins to improve performance and maintain an even balance with health.

“It’s based on working the meridians of energy in the body,” he said.

“It’s like taking a supplement … except you’re giving the supplement to yourself by moving your body in a cautious and thoughtful way.”

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.29.43 PM.pngPictured: Coolum HeARTs mediation class participant in action.
Photo credit: Lacee-Ann Froeschl.

Coolum HeARTs, a not-for-profit organisation, has weekly Tai chi and meditation classes that aim to soothe the pressures of every day life.

Participant at Coolum HeARTs, Rosalie Morgan, 83, proves this objective.

“I’d never done meditation [or Tai chi] before … but I tried it and it’s really good,” she said.

“I can relax more.”

Home Harmony Counselling owner and counsellor Donna Spittles, who has been running a private practice for two years, said spending a few hours per week focusing on your body provided many benefits.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.16.53 PM.pngA screenshot of the Home Harmony Counselling home page on the website (hyperlinked above).
Donna Spittles, Home Harmony Counselling website.

“Meditation and Tai chi are so effective in improving your brain and body functions because they’re actually teaching you to focus,” Ms Spittles said.

She said with the end of year stresses of holiday planning, Christmas present shopping, work and study deadlines, such activities could also help people’s bodies “catch a breath”.

“It brings you back inside yourself and calms your body – which allows the brain’s ‘limbic system’ to recuperate and essentially reboot,” she said.

She said she also used meditation and encouraged university students in particular, as final exams and assessments approach, to do the same.

“This would be particularly beneficial for university students,” she said.

“[Such activities] fuel motivation as it brings the brain into a state where you’re completely focused on the activity you’re doing.”

A beginners clip on the top 10 moves in Tai Chi.
Kung Fu & Tai Chi Center w/ Jake Mace, Youtube

Ms Spittles said the pressures of remembering the masses of information leaves a dent in their study drive, but could be fixed.

“If they’re able to strengthen the limbic system (brain) … it’s easier to focus and retain information,” she said.

“I encourage any activity that gives the chance to turn off the worry and stress and focus on something enjoyable.”

Short clip on how to meditate for beginners.
Sean Stewart, Youtube

Mr McGrath also said engagement in Tai chi and meditation was beneficial for university students who struggle with concentration.

“You could say it’s going to make them better at their concentrated work,” he said.

“There’s nothing worse than trying to write things and do assignments when you’re getting distracted all the time.

“So seeking a class that teaches how to focus can be very beneficial.”

Featured image: Tarcia Saravia, Flikr