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Ease Stress and Find Calm at Virtual Meditation Sessions

Ease Stress and Find Calm at Virtual Meditation Sessions

stock photo woman with back to the camera sits in full lotus pose at sunrise

Stress. It’s a fact of life, and this year, it’s at an all-time high for people across the globe. Whether it’s fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemic or one of the numerous other stressors making headlines here and abroad, experts tells us we need to find ways to rewind and relax to protect our health and mental wellness, as well as those we care for.

One proven and safe way to relieve harmful stress is through breathwork and meditation.

Faculty and staff on all three University of Oklahoma campuses are invited to participate in an online SKY Meditation Retreat, scheduled for Oct. 23-25. The retreat is part of LiveWell OU’s initiative to increase awareness of and enhance work-life balance, as well as physical and mental well-being. As a bonus, participants earn points in their LiveWell OU portal. The last retreat, held in September, was quickly sold out.

OU faculty members Pooja Shrivastava and Dinesh Nath, who lead the SKY retreats, also offer free 30-minute meditation and breathwork sessions twice a week on Zoom for OU students, faculty and staff. These sessions, called Happiness Reconnect, are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 1:30 p.m. To see a schedule and to register, click here.

The SKY retreat and Happiness Reconnect sessions offer an in-depth experience of effortless meditation, breathwork, yoga and more. SKY practice uses cyclical, rhythmic patterns of breath to easily bring the mind and body into a state of meditation. During a recent research study at Yale, SKY participants reported improvements in six areas of well-being: depression, stress, mental health, mindfulness, positive affect and social connectedness.

“Our minds remain constantly engaged in deep rational and analytical thinking, which goes beyond office hours,” Shrivastava said. “The SKY Meditation Retreat offers tools and techniques which can help gain a calm and relaxed state of mind, even in stressful moments.”

Nath added that taking time away from work is not a luxury, but rather a necessity so as to reset our brains.

“The meditation and breathing techniques taught in SKY Meditation Retreat gives that calm and clear state of mind to even a beginner of meditation,” he said. “Investing 20 minutes of SKY meditation daily buys me eight hours of clear state of mind for handling complex scientific information at work.”

Brigitte Steinheider, an associate professor of psychology at OU-Tulsa, participated in the September online retreat, and highly recommends it to others.

“After practicing Zen and Vipassana meditation for years, I signed up for the SKY breath meditation workshop to learn a new technique,” she said. “To my surprise, I not only learned a very active meditation approach that is very effective in reducing stress and increasing focus but is also very practical: One component, the ujjayi breathing, helps one to fall asleep, while another component, the bhastrika breath, is energizing. The whole breathing sequence takes about 25 minutes, and I am already practicing it in the mornings. In addition, our discussions about the five keys to happiness and peace were very valuable and created connections between the participants. This was my first online retreat, and it worked very well. I would recommend it to everybody (actually, I have done so already) and I am grateful that OU offered it!”

During the upcoming virtual SKY retreat, attendees will:

  • Learn a powerful evidence-based meditation that allows the mind to be clear and calm
  • Experience tools to sustain personal wellbeing and happiness
  • Understand and experience the effortless power of breathing techniques in effectively managing stress, energy, focus and negative emotions
  • Learn new frameworks for dealing with stressful situations for better resilience

Space is limited for the Oct. 23-25 online retreat, and spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendance at all three sessions is required. To attend the retreat, register here. For questions related to the retreat, please contact LiveWell OU at


By Jerri Culpepper

Article Published:  Wednesday, October 7, 2020