UWM meditation class teaches 'The Art of Being Still'

Think about the last time you took a deep breath, or sat still for five minutes without looking at your phone. 

For most of us, these aren't common practices. But a new class at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this semester will teach students these skills. 

The class is called "The Art of Being Still." It's taught by Erin Maris, who owns a yoga and fitness studio in Mequon, but also teaches fitness classes on the side at UWM. 

"When you're so busy, the last thing you feel like you have time for and that would benefit you is to sit still," said Maris. 

Maris did a demonstration of the class Wednesday in the UWM Student Union. 

For about one hour, twice a week, students will disconnect from the outside world. It's something we probably all can use, but college students especially have a variety of stressors in their lives, Maris said. 

"The fact that they have to work and take out loans, the stress of the physical nature of it," she said. 

And she says sitting still isn't as easy as it sounds. 

"When you first meditate and sit still, your body is still and your mind appears to be incredibly loud," she said. "So in the class, you learn how to sit with the noise and come into a place of breath connection and in that, you find the noise settles down a little bit." 

She uses essential oils, calming music and low lighting to guide students through the mediation. And then she literally just lets them sit still. 

"I thought it was going to be a long time and I'd struggle with it," said Gabrielle Metoxen, a senior at Lakeland University who just started working at UWM. "But it really helped me to just relax and be calm." 

The class will start March 26. Full-time students taking 12 credits or more can sign up for the one-credit class at no additional cost. 

"My hopes are that it's like a ripple effect that people start to observe one another instead of having devices in the ears or always looking down but actually see people just sitting, doing what appears to be nothing," said Maris. 

If you're not a UWM student, Maris teaches the same techniques at her fitness studio in Mequon called E2.

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