Finding time for meditative moments

Many people have a busy work life, rushing to meetings and activities, with little time to exhale. But in the time it takes to read this article, there is a simple practice individuals can do on a hectic day to reduce stress.

The practice is called mindfulness and involves developing awareness of your present thoughts and feelings to help manage different situations on and off the job.

Sandi Herman, a health and wellness educator at Penn for 13 years, has been offering workshops related to stress reduction, self-care, and mindfulness to students, faculty, and staff since 2007.

Two guided meditations are held on campus each week, from noon to 1 p.m. on Mondays in Room 247 in Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce St., and on Thursdays in the lower level of the Graduate Student Center, 3615 Locust Walk. The free sessions are open to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with room for some staff and faculty to attend.

However, one does not need to attend a guided session to reap the benefits of mindfulness. This useful form of meditation can be practiced anywhere, anytime.

“Try pausing for a few moments,” Herman says. “Focus on your breathing and bring a slight smile to your face. As you do this, you can relax the muscles in your face, follow your breath, and come into the present moment. With compassion and without judgment, keep yourself company, and experience what is happening in yourself and the world around you.”  

With practice, mindfulness can reduce stress, improve concentration, and lead to a healthier life. 

“I especially like sitting on a bench at Locust Walk, listening to my breath, connecting with the big beautiful trees and adventurous squirrels, and watching the people walk by,” Herman says.

Her guided meditation podcasts are available on the Student Health Services website.

For more information, contact Herman at

As part of the Healthy Living Workshop series sponsored by Division of Human Resources (HR), free sessions on mindfulness are offered to the Penn community. These sessions explore the science behind the practice.

HR also sponsors yoga workshops that help to stretch both mind and body. The workshops are quite popular and fill up fast. For more information, contact HR at 215-573-2471 or