Image of free weekly meditation class

It can be as easy as, well, breathing.

And the benefits, according to research, can be life changing.

Meditation, as defined by the Merriam- Webster dictionary, is the act of “engaging in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.”

SBH is now bringing meditation to the staff by offering a free weekly 30-minute class. Classes are being held in the auditorium on Thursdays from noon-12:30 pm through July 6th. No reservations are necessary.

“Bringing wellness to our community, including meditation, will be a major objective of the new SBH Health, Wellness & Affordable Housing Project,” said Len Walsh, EVP/COO. “With this in mind, we thought it only made sense to first make the class available to staff.”

The project on Third Avenue, which is scheduled to open in early 2019, will feature the Bronx Center for Healthy Communities, a space of more than 50,000 square feet devoted to health and wellness with preventive health strategies integrated into the programming.

Welcome to Meditation Class

Instructor David Bakis set the mood by offering each of the 50 or so participants a wet face towel smelling faintly of lavender. He explained his own exposure to meditation: after working as a peacekeeper in the occupied territories of the West Bank in Israel he personally struggled with his physical, emotional and psychological health. He participated in an intensive meditation program on the recommendation of a friend.

“I was skeptical at first, like some of you may be, but after the third session I started to feel much better,” he says. “It changed my life.” Meditation, he says, increased his focus, reduced his stress, and resulted in greater happiness and peace of mind.

He begins the class by teaching proper posture – butts far back in the chair, back slightly arched, feet on the floor, hands in the lap. His soothing voice instructs them to close their eyes and to breathe in and out through their nose. In the background, gentle, relaxing music plays. “You breathe in to nourish, and breathe out to fully relax,” he says. “Your thoughts will invade. Welcome everything that comes in. Think of a leaf floating on a stream.”

According to the website of Journey Meditation, the company hired by the hospital, employee meditation leads to greater calm, clarity and peace of mind. This results in increases in productivity and retention and improvement in employee health. Research bears this out. A Duke University study reported that employee meditation led to a 36 percent decrease in workplace stress. A University of Wisconsin study reported that employees who practiced meditation for just eight weeks indicated they were happier and more in touch with what they love about their jobs.