Kind institutions dedicated to teaching stupid humans how to stop killing themselves with stress are rolling out courses on university campuses across the nation. ‘The Art of Living Foundation’ is one such organization that is running workshops on stress management and how to live a balanced life. It is part of a new ‘buzz’ movement known as ‘Personal Sustainability’.
Nowadays many campuses have a ‘Personal Sustainability Society’ that often hosts workshops that teach students how to reduce their stress using breathing techniques, value-teaching and personal responsibility. It is easy to link the increase in non-sectarian ‘art of living’ type practices and the pluralisation of traditional religious and faith-based practices which can be seen in Western society. It seems many students find it useful to be able to access a value-based advisory service which is not tied to any dogma or belief system. Furthermore the teaching is immediately applicable and gives quick results in the participant’s life without the need for intensive religious or meditative practices. Critics of such movements say that the results are temporary or fleeting while others concede that the practices give benefit but express concern that they might replace more serious meditative and religious practices in the student’s life. Either way, it seems that both religious and secular students are happily taking advantage of the latest incarnation of practices developed millennia ago.
The motivation for students flocking to these courses is a desire for increased productivity and a happier, more harmonious existence. It is clear that a chaotic personal life can play havoc on academic performance and many of these ‘Personal Sustainability’ classes include training students to take responsibility for their actions. They use a more holistic approach to the need for a less stressful, more focused approach to academic work. All this begs the question that, perhaps, and I’m going out on a limb here, what if munching SSRIs and Addarall is not the best way to combat stress?
‘Yesplus’ is an organization that runs applied meditation and value-based living workshops at over 40 universities nationwide. Courses cover, physical health (breathing and yoga), mental (strategies for increasing focus and cognition), social (leadership and teamwork exercises) and emotional (group work and honesty exercises). Yesplus also recommend a vegetarian diet and getting enough sleep. These practices, ‘Yesplus’ claim can increase ‘life energy’ which results in an improvement in all areas of life including academics. Students soon report having increased mastery of the mind and a general feeling of calmness and good health.