New Meditation Course Fosters Harmony and Balance
New Meditation Course Fosters Harmony and Balance

by Jackie Hennessey
Communications and Public Affairs Writer/Editor

Sometimes when Vincent Cangiano, a staff counselor in the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, suggests mindfulness meditation as a positive way to deal with life’s stresses, students tell him, “I don’t have time for it,” or “It wouldn’t work; I can’t get my mind to relax.”

Cangiano tells them that once they learn the technique of mindfulness, they can practice waiting in line at the bank, during a brisk walk across campus, while tucked in a corner table at Jazzman’s Café – or really anywhere.

The Office of Counseling and Psychological Services is offering meditation classes for students, faculty and staff.

Nor do students, faculty or staff have to worry if their minds are full. “Mindfulness meditation is not about relaxing, per se, or quieting the mind; it’s more about meeting what arises in life with a sense of calm and openness,” he said. “The mind is not ready to be free of thoughts because it’s been trained to be full of them. We’re constantly thinking, planning, evaluating and figuring out what’s next. So how do we respond to a very busy mind as each thought takes us for a familiar ride?”

Last semester Cangiano facilitated a drop-in mindfulness program at the University’s new Meditation and Spirituality Center. It continues this semester on Tuesdays from 12:10 to 12:55 p.m. at the Center (15 Ruden Street). The drop-in group is open to the entire UNH community – students, faculty and staff – and no registration is required.

In addition, the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services is offering a new four-week course for students called “Koru Mindfulness,” based on a program developed at Duke University. Koru is a Maori word that symbolizes new life, harmony and balance.

Two sections of the course will be offered. The first will take place every Wednesday in February from 3:45 to 5 p.m. That course is full, but a second one will be held on Thursdays in April from 3:45 to 5 p.m. Both take place in the Meditation and Spirituality Center. Interested students are asked to email Cangiano at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Each student in the course will receive a copy of Wherever You Go, There You Are by John Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The stress reduction program Kabat-Zinn created is rooted in mindfulness and meditation and is used at medical centers, hospitals and in preventive health care programs around the country.

“As our lives are becoming increasingly busy and full of potential distractions, the mindfulness and meditation classes being offered by Vincent Cangiano will assist in helping members of the University community become more self-aware and develop coping skills,” said Rebecca Johnson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “This will help to reduce stress and increase one’s ability to focus.”

The course and drop-in sessions are part of a continued emphasis on wellness across campus, Cangiano said, noting that anxiety is often high among college students. 

“Research has pointed to both physical and psychological benefits of regular mindfulness practice,” he said. “I hope the classes will allow students to discover new ways to address stress in their lives, find balance and improve their overall wellbeing.”

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