Twenty Minutes Still: Daily Campus Meditation Helps Students De-stress

Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to improve students’ mental health and decrease stress and anxiety.


University of Chicago Photographic Archive

Interior of Bond Chapel, photograph dated 10/7/1926.

By Isaac Krakowka

To promote mindfulness, Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) launched Twenty Minutes Still, a meditation session that is led by qualified instructors on weekday mornings at 8 a.m. in Bond Chapel. No experience is necessary to participate in these drop-in sessions, and they are open to students of all spiritual backgrounds. 

Twenty Minutes Still promotes mindfulness as a way to stay connected to what is most bountiful in life, according to SHCS. Mindfulness can be achieved naturally through living, and it can be strengthened through meditation. SHCS launched Twenty Minutes Still because they believe in meditation’s ability to decrease stress and anxiety, improve concentration and attention, and regulate emotions, among other benefits. 

Many groups at UChicago promote student mindfulness in conjunction with SHCS’s Twenty Minutes Still, including UChicago Spiritual Life, the Law School, and the Division of the Social Sciences.  

Fourth-year undergraduate student Grace Clements and meditation facilitator Nicole Yan were the two attendees at last Thursday’s session. Typically, the guided meditation consists of groups of students gathering in front of the altar of Bond Chapel and sitting together in silence for 20 minutes.

“I only started going a couple weeks ago, every once in a while, because I realized I was having a hard time living in the moment,” Clements said. “So this helps me be mindful at the beginning of the day. My memory is better. It’s good.”

Yan became a moderator at the beginning of this school year. She leads quiet meditation sessions each week, and has seen a few individuals come on a regular basis. Yan learned how to lead meditation from her previous teachers. “I have a teacher in Zen tradition, so I have felt I learned so much by just sitting,” Yan said. She uses her teacher’s method of one-on-one instruction to help her lead meditation sessions.  

Yan believes there is a great benefit to reflecting and meditating as a community before the day begins. To her, the communal aspect is especially important. “I think that’s what we want to create because I know there are many [types of] online guidance,” Yan said. “You can listen at home, but [that] is very individual.” 

“It’s good for people to sit together to feel the energy of sitting together.”