Just Say Om

Just Say Om

Meditation has been an influential practice across the globe for thousands of years. But you might not realize how the ancient art can improve your life.

By Eric Michael ’96

Cyndie Koopsen, a nurse educator and co-author of Spirituality, Health, and Healing: An Integrative Approach, teaches people from all walks of life to incorporate meditation in their daily routines for a variety of powerful benefits. Her online course, Certificate in Meditation, is one of hundreds of low-cost classes offered by UCF Continuing Education.

“[As a nurse] I took care of clients from different countries and cultural backgrounds, and I learned about many other kinds of healing systems using therapeutic modalities that seemed to work really well for them,” Koopsen says. “I felt like an entire new world was really opened up for me in terms of healthcare.”

Through her experience of helping women through labor and delivery, Koopsen learned how the foundations of meditation — guided imagery, breathing techniques and mindfulness — could be powerful tools for healing. A growing body of medical research published by the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests meditation can have medical benefits. Koopsen’s experience changed her views on holistic medicine, along with her perspective on her own life.

“I believe strongly that the connection of the mind, body and spirit is absolutely essential for being healthy,” she says. “Meditation and mindfulness — being present in the moment — are incredibly powerful in terms of what they can do for a variety of aspects of health.”

“Meditation and mindfulness — being present in the moment — are incredibly powerful in terms of what they can do for a variety of aspects of health.”
Cyndie Koopsen, a nurse educator and co-author of Spirituality, Health, and Healing: An Integrative Approach

Here are five ways meditation can create positive benefits in your life, according to Koopsen.

1. Learn how to just be.

“One of the challenges in our lives today is that we’re so busy doing. Meditation focuses on just being fully present, which is really powerful. It helps me stay focused on what is in front of me right in the moment, so I don’t worry as much, and I enjoy people and experiences much more fully.”

2. Reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression.

“Just 30 seconds to a minute of meditation can make a difference. It improves sleep. It decreases our tendency to worry or be anxious. It increases feelings of happiness. And it increases our resilience and adaptability to a lot of our stressors.”

3. Improve pain management.

“Pain can be mental as well as physical. Meditation works effectively with both acute and chronic pain, so it can actually reduce the need for medication.”

4. Inspire mindful eating.

“Mindful eating means not eating when we’re distracted, not eating on the go, and enjoying the presence of others at a meal. When people eat mindfully, they eat more nutritious food. They enjoy it more. And they eat less. It makes eating a joyful experience.”

5. Experience more joy.

“When we are calmer, less anxious and more present, we feel empowered to help ourselves stay healthy — or to heal. I also think that when we’re mindful, we are much more aware of the beauty that’s around us. And we tend to focus on more positive things, which gives us a greater sense of joy.”