NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- U.S. Naval Support Activity Naples Religious Ministries Department is hosting weekly meditation classes at the Support Site Chapel aboard the facility.
The Zen meditation classes are held every Monday at 7 p.m., and are facilitated by the chapel's Buddhist Lay Leader, Laura Hitchcock .
"I am there to sit and provide a venue to those who wish to meditate in the company of others," Hitchcock said. "Anyone can practice meditation; it's simple and inexpensive, and it doesn't require any special equipment."
Hitchcock said meditation has been a large part of her life for several years and there are many benefits from meditating.
"Numerous scientific studies have shown that meditation reduces stress, depression, blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia as well as help end substance abuse," Hitchcock said. "When you meditate you are clearing away much of the extra baggage you've accumulated during your day or week and focusing on the present moment... it can help you achieve a new outlook on stressful situations and deepen your spiritual practices of any faith or denomination."
Religious Program Specialist Seaman Kenneth Lindsay attends Zen meditation classes and agrees the classes are helpful to all, regardless of one's faith.
"People don't need to look at the class as part of any specific religion," Lindsay said. "The class is a good supplement for anybody because it tries to get you to relax and think things through. It sets a good precedence for a good habit to take time out for oneself and it's worth trying out."
"It's also good to know that I can come to this class and have my one hour, one day a week that's peaceful," Lindsay said. "We all have our worries week-in and week-out, but for me I think the class affects my decision making positively and keeps me calm during work."
Hitchcock said that classes have been meeting for more than two years now with a total membership of about 70 people. Only a few members seem to attend each class, which is fine by Hitchcock, who feels smaller, intimate groups per class makes reaching meditation aims easier.
"The main goal of our meditation sessions is to achieve whatever the individual is looking for; for some it may be relaxation, for others anger management, inner peace or any range of emotional or spiritual goals" Hitchcock said.
Lindsay said that some of the key components to effective meditation are breathing techniques and posture, which Hitchcock takes time to teach and demonstrate during an Introduction to Meditation class.
"Breathing is important because it slows your heart-rate and decreases the amount of carbon-dioxide in your body while increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood," Lindsay said.
For more news from Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/nsanaples/.