Ohio State neuroscience student Prasad Thakkar couldn’t get out of bed. He was experiencing debilitating depression and felt like he was going to vomit.
As the day would progress, he would have a few panic attacks, wouldn’t be able to keep food down and would be exhausted as a result. That’s what felt normal for Thakkar.
Thakkar was experiencing prolonged withdrawal from pain medication, but one day last year, he went to a retreat hosted by a meditation club on campus called YesPlus. It helped him take back control of his life.
Kaitlin Acton, vice president of the YesPlus Club at OSU, said she has seen many students benefit from the breathing-based meditation technique that the club teaches.
“The benefits I’ve gained from taking this course — not just once but several times — is profound. I’ve seen so many people get so many benefits from it as well,” said Acton, a third-year in international studies.
The course Acton referred to is YesPlus’s primary activity — a weekend retreat the club hosts two to three times each semester.
In recent years, the scientific community has took notice of both meditation and the specific technique taught by YesPlus. According to a report on the website for YesPlus’s parent organization, The Art of Living, more than 60 independent studies published in peer review journals have shown that the technique provides a “comprehensive range of benefits.”
For Thakkar, reaching these benefits was a long time coming.
When he was younger, he had some depression and anxiety. It then returned his first year of college when his doctor abruptly took him off a pain medication he had been prescribed after a serious rugby injury in high school led to nerve damage. After that, the depression and anxiety were much worse, and they were joined by several other withdrawal symptoms.
His grades were suffering, and many days he couldn’t make it to class. In fact, with only a few weeks remaining in the semester during fall 2015, Thakkar withdrew from his classes.
Multiple doctors he went to see were at a loss for how to help him, Thakkar said.
“So at that point when you’re going to doctors and even they can’t tell you what’s wrong, it gets hard to hold onto hope that everything’s going to get better,” he said.
It wouldn’t be until fall of 2016 when he would take the advice of an acquaintance to attend a YesPlus retreat. Almost immediately, Thakkar said he felt better mentally and physically.
“Literally after the first day, I started experiencing change,” he said. “It wasn’t like anything outwardly had changed, but your viewpoint on everything had changed.”
Prior to attending, Thakkar said exams were some of the biggest causes of his anxiety. Since attending the YesPlus retreat, he said he hasn’t had test anxiety. No more vomiting, either.
“The shift in mental health was so great that it also instantaneously made a difference in my physical health,” he said.
Any Ohio State student who would like to learn about this technique is welcome to attend a YesPlus retreat, Acton said. Additionally, she said the club’s activities include regular meetings and meditation sessions, events to have fun and service activities.
“Our mission is to see every Buckeye smile,” she said.
Thakkar spends more of his time smiling now. He feels good when he wakes up and is excited for the day to come. He can go to the gym, play tennis and has enough energy to finish the last year of his bachelor’s degree.
“The day feels like it’s under my control,” he said.
YesPlus’s next retreat will take place from Feb. 2-4. Fees are $15 for Ohio State students and $250 for the general public. To sign up or for more information, visit www.yesplusosu.org.