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How I learned to free my mind

Mills College Weekly

Getting the mind to quiet down is tough. We at Mills are plagued
with papers, exams, deadlines, readings…stress is inarguably a
huge factor in the life of any student. With midterms upon us, now
is a prime opportunity to learn the art of relaxation.

The Nyingma Institute in Berkeley offers a way for overstressed
students to learn how to unwind. Nestled peacefully above the
Berkeley Hills, Nyingma provides classes open to the public that
teach the art of meditation. Every Sunday a class is taught on Kum
Nye relaxation, from 10 a.m. to noon.

When I entered the quiet, dark room where this class is held,
the instructor told me to take a mat and sit down in the circle
around him. He immediately made me feel comfortable and welcome.
Seeing that I was new, he gave me a little background about the
techniques of the class: it involves slow, quiet movement
exercises, proper breathing and quiet sitting, all the while
maintaining a subtle awareness of the surroundings and sensations
of the body.

We sat quietly on pillows with our legs crossed and our hands on
our knees. He taught us the proper way to breathe-simultaneously
through the nose and mouth, with the tongue touching up behind the
front teeth. The room was very cold, but blankets were supplied to
us. We rubbed our hands together to “create energy,” and then we
concentrated our energy at our hearts, feeling it warm our

We did a couple of standing exercises, moving our arms back and
forth like “a branch in the wind” and holding our arms to our
sides, but we sat quietly in meditation for the majority of the

When the instructor rang a small bell to get our attention, I
could feel that my body had moved into a deep state of relaxation.
I had to “wake it up” before returning to the outside world.

The Tibetan mystique of the institute might cause a first-timer
to think they can immediately feel “enlightened.” This of course
will take more than one session. But after spending Sunday morning
at the Nyingma Institute, I had learned how forget my life and
relax- and as midterms arrive this alone is a vital lesson.

The Tibetan Nyingma Institute is located at 1815 Highland Place,
Berkeley. For information visit