The clock lingers at 1:49, the deep breath before students are finally granted their freedom. It is the last class of the day and the only thing that sounds bearable is just, getting outside. Whether a windy trip down to Ocean Beach, or a hike at Fort Funston, located just across from Lake Merced. The sun is beating down during the San Francisco heat in the middle October. Blood pumping and fresh air sounds like the only thing that can relieve the pressure of school.
Classes are starting to get out of control with non-stop papers and uncomfortable presentations in front of groups of eighty odd students floating in the same boat as you in the abyss of stress.
Passing by people walking their dogs or flying their model airplanes, it seems they have their lives all together which feels like a slap in the face with all of the stress from school. However, the smell of the ocean and autumn leaves counteracts this effect. Finally having some time alone to think while walking up through the old army base covered in colorful graffiti, an eye-catching hole in the fence near the edge of the hiking trail starts to infect the mind with curiosity.
“It seems silly, but this hole in the fence changed my perspective on life and how to go about it,” chuckled Nick Marnocha, a 23-year-old business major at San Francisco State University. “I seemed to have stumbled upon what would be my sanctuary for the rest of my semester and the next.”
Marnocha steps through the rusted fence thinking nothing of it as he starts to creep down the side of the cliff until he reaches a steady platform of sand, salted rocks, and a patch of sea foam green grass just the perfect size for Marnocha to sit on and gaze out on the uninterrupted masses of blue. This is where water meets the sky. The Pacific Ocean rolled in and out creating intricate designs of white water marks grazing the shore and after a few moments of cloud surfing he shuts his eyes. Marnocha began to meditate for the first time in his ripe age of 23.
“I just began to breath and listen to the ocean, the wind and the birds,” Marnocha said with a smirk. “I thought I was sitting there for about ten minutes, but when I finally opened my eyes almost an hour had slipped by my mind. It felt amazing and helped me from that moment on to always stay present with what I am doing in school–or anything for that matter.”
According to a French study done last year in January by the Frontiers of Psychology, who took a total of 483 students and ran tests on their mental health and stress levels, they found that 79% of them were suffering or showing signs of anxiety, depression, as well as low self-esteem and little optimism.
“I believe in pronoia,” explained Christopher James a graphic design major. “It’s just the opposite of paranoia where your perspective includes the universe always being in your favor with what you do in life, no matter how much it doesn’t seem like it’s going your way. This helps me with my stress, since I know whatever I do has a beneficial reason for what I am trying to accomplish.”
Be that as it may, factors of stress are not all as tangible as one would assume because there is something in our body that everyone has, but is frequently forgotten.
“Energy, like with chakras, can also be thought of like the flow of electrons traveling through the nervous system. I don’t truly believe in chakras, but I do think it is a helpful way for people to understand how to deal with stress,” explained Mark Wilson, graduate of Cognitive Science from SF State. “Similar to a chemical imbalance in the brain, I could see where chakras and their concept are very much alike.”
Indeed, we are living, but more than that, there is a life force within in us that has everything and everyone connected. Unfortunately, for the freaks and the geeks, we’re not talking about Star Wars and lifting rocks, but something less extreme, or even more impressing, depending on whom you talk to. Our bodies have energy coursing through us at all times, like snow melting from a mountain, turning into water. This water rushes down the streams and rivers for which, we drink, as snow again builds on top of that same mountain. It is truly a circular pattern that connects one to the top of this mountain.
“What helps with the flow of energy being transferred through our bodies does have to do with seven chakras located in different areas, including the mind,” Mya Ranngi explained, who has been based in West Portal as a spiritual consultant and adviser for over five years. “People who go through traumatic experiences or large amounts of stress are highly likely to block one of their chakras, which in the end creates blockage for the other six.”
Let’s take the analogy of the water flowing from the mountain again and compare it to one of the many students at SF State struggling with stress from their full time schedule. A massive tree falls from the side of the stream and ends up blocking a part of the river and begins to back-up all the “energy” that started from the top of the mountain. This resembles the stress of a test, or a roommate that you just can’t seem to get along with, and this can slowly intoxicate your body.
“Depending on what one is experiencing will affect a specific chakra. The first chakra is the root chakra at the base of the spine,” Ranngi noted.
Like any teachings of mindfulness, energy is similar, but also different in every single sentient being that lives on our planet. There is no direct way in finding out what will mostly benefit you on relieving stress, and theories range among thousands of different techniques.
“I don’t know too much about chakras, I’ve been going to a specialist for acupuncture ever since I graduated from SF State”, Campus Counselor Jenna Tomsky insisted, who gained her diploma in 2014. “My specialist has spoken to me about energy flowing through the body and how blockage is a main cause of stress as well.”
So where can find the other locations to the remaining six chakras?
“Moving up to the sacral chakra right below the navel, the solar plexus chakra in the stomach, the heart chakra in the chest, the throat chakra, the third eye chakra in the forehead, and finally the crown chakra at the top of the head,” Ranngi listed. “Emotions are extremely influential to all these areas and having control of your emotions is a huge step in gaining balance from within.”
Physical health is important, but with all the stress us students face, it’s just as important to keep yourself balanced with the energy flowing through your body, so that massive trees don’t clog up the water traveling down the mountain.