2019-02-01 / Shorts

Master Your Mind

Dharma Lions at Penn State helps guide meditation, breathing and mindfulness classes every week for those interested in connecting with others on concepts of inner peace, awareness and emotion.
Laura Zaks

Silencing negative energies, turning inward for deep evaluation and focusing on mindfulness and meditation — all great resolutions that may be easier said than done. If you made promises to yourself last month that you have yet to begin, Dharma Lions is here to help.

This mindfulness community at Penn State meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. every Thursday in the Biobehavioral Health Building, welcoming anyone interested in forming a greater sense of well-being.

“Dharma Lions provides a space on campus for students, faculty and local community members to learn and practice mindfulness and meditation in a supportive group setting,” says Desiree Dennis, a meditation teacher for the organization. “Each meeting is guided by a senior meditation practitioner who leads the meditation and discussion. The group is open to all levels.”

The organization was founded in 2013 by Kami Dvořáková, a Ph.D. student.

“As a longtime practitioner, she wanted to create a space where people could support each other in their meditation practice and grow as a conscious community,” Dennis explains. “Since then, there have been many fantastic teachers who have brought their knowledge and expertise to our group — Mark Agrusti, a local meditation and yoga teacher from Yoga Lab studio, has played an instrumental role in guiding and expanding the group, and serves as one of our primary instructors.”

Each meeting starts with 30 to 45 minutes of meditation guided by the instructor of the week; each instructor serves the class with different styles such as assistance through breathing exercises, guidance in meditation or facilitating an environment of peace.

The second half of the meeting is spent discussing any inner discoveries, emotional inventory or concepts on mindfulness.

“The point of meditation is not to ‘clear your mind’ but rather master your mind and notice the circus that goes on in there,” says Sima Farzanegan, a loyal member of Dharma Lions. “(Dharma Lions has taught me) there is no way to meditate wrong. It’s all about practice and being in a community where there are no expectations.”

And that is why Dennis feels this weekly commitment to mindfulness is a special haven for all those who crave down-to-earth conversations.

“When you are attending weekly meetings, you know you are surrounded by people who are truly interested in deep and authentic connection,” she says. “It has been a true blessing to have the opportunity to practice mindful and compassionate communication with other members of the community in a safe setting.”

Life truly can get complicated with knots and webs that revolve around work, family, relationships — maybe this new year is about donating time to untangling those strings.

]“Meditation is exercise for your mind; the more you practice, the more conditioned you get,” Farzanegan says. “We are all on the same journey of trying to be present in our daily lives.” •SCM

Return to top