VICENZA, Italy- Many people reduce stress and relax by running, talking with friends, or even by reading. Meditation might not be an obvious option, but it is becoming more popular and is now available on Caserma Ederle. Every Wednesday from 8-9 a.m., the Army Wellness Center hosts a free meditation-yoga class that teaches the relaxation response, different breathing techniques, meditation techniques, and yoga nidra, or yogic rest. Lacy Wolff and Frances Packard, instructors of the class, seek to help the participants reduce stress and feel good.
"Through this course, (we) wanted members to understand the benefits of meditation, gain exposure to and practice several different types of meditation, and work toward developing a daily practice," Wolff said.
The idea behind start the course happened after a conversation Wolff had with one of the medical provider Laura Lefevers at the Health Center that prompted Wolff to research the benefits of meditation for people in pain and question why Vicenza did not have a meditation class. After pulling together a group of passionate people, the Army Wellness Center and the Medical Center managed to form the "Meditation Working Group," with the primary goal of reaching the community with strategies to increase mindfulness and use meditation to reduce stress.
According to Wolff, meditation benefits spread into three categories: psychological/emotional, physical, and work related benefits.
"Meditations, in the psychological sense, creates a sense of calmness, reduces use of prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and improves grades at school; in the work sense, it reduces sick days, improves productivity, work performance and working relationships while also stimulating creativity," said Wolff. "It also strengthens the immune system, reduces viruses, cardiovascular problems, and chronic pain, lengthening the life span at the same time."
Meditation may not be as hard as learning to ride a bicycle, but it is not exactly a cakewalk either. According to the instructors it takes patience and it is a process that requires regular practice. As with other exercises, benefits do not become evident overnight. However, when they do manifest, it could change the person's life in a profound way.
Army Community Services is also offering "Meditation Monday" which is a walk-in meditation practice during the lunch hour every Monday and is open to the whole community. Every week different meditation techniques and a quiet space for community members will be offered. The actual meditation will take place from 12:20-12:40 p.m. so it is recommended to come early and secure a spot.