The space between Taper Hall and Bovard is often overlooked, passed by many students rushing to get to class. But every Wednesday on a patch of grass mats are laid out, a sign is put up and people put their belongings aside and take a seat. Griffin Damron, a sophomore majoring in sociology and NGOs and social change, sets up a timer for 40 minutes, the amount of time the group can allow themselves to forget everything and just be. After pressing the start button, Damron settles into a cross-legged position and closes his eyes, to which everyone follows. Meditation has begun.“If you look around, you’ll see that everyone is thinking way too much,” Damron said. “At USC there’s a culture of high achievement and working hard, and you always have to be on top of everything. But no one even considers taking time out of their day to just think, and be, and exist, which is so important.”Damron had been practicing meditation on and off for a few years, but after revisiting it last summer, he realized he wanted to share the awareness of his surroundings mediation gave him with his peers. Through working together with his friends Chris Robinson and Natalie Raphael, they founded BreatheSC, a meditation club on campus that holds sessions from Mondays through Wednesdays. Raphael stresses the effect of meditation on someone’s well-being.“Now more than ever people constantly medicate themselves in order to escape reality, whether that be with alcohol or drugs,” Raphael, a sophomore majoring in public relations, said. “Meditation forces you to accept reality for what it is and act mindfully … since you are truly forced to be in tune with your internal self as well, which is also something super rare, but super crucial in order to living a fulfilled life.”What makes BreatheSC unique from other yoga and mindfulness clubs on campus is the emphasis on its online presence through its Facebook page and group. The Facebook page promotes other organizations hosting weekly meditation sessions such as Mindful USC and Heartfulness, as well as the upcoming sessions for that week. The group, on the other hand, functions more like a community, sharing albums from meditation sessions as well as articles about the benefits of mindfulness.Raphael states that there’s an incentive for students to meditate as well — in her own experience, meditation has improved her personal and academic life.“I used to have to drink coffee before going into my night classes,” Raphael said. “If not I would have to force myself to keep my eyes open. But now i just meditate before my class … Meditation is the key to sustained energy.”Even though the organization started in March, Breathe SC aspires to reach more than 100 people for meditation sessions in McCarthy Quad in the coming semester as well as hold some sort of an all-day yoga and meditation festival at USC. Members such as Vanessa Batyko find meditation to be more enhanced when done with a group of people.“Since this club started, it gives me an incentive that makes me want to be here every single day meditating,” Batyko said. “It’s such a great environment of people that I know are also genuinely interested in the practice.”Despite these aspirations, the group never forgets about their roots, always making time at the end of meditation to talk about each individual’s experience. While the group consists mostly of people who practice meditation on their own, BreatheSC recognizes that the process is a shared experience.“At the end of the meditation, we talk about how our experiences are, and that’s my favorite part,” Raphael said. “A lot of times the way someone describes how their meditation was going is similar to my own experience … It’s a good reminder that you’re not alone and at the end of the day, you can relate to almost anyone in some way.”
The Portugal international, who now has three Ballons d’Or to his name, heralded himself and his Liga rival while also discussing when he might retire.Cristiano Ronaldo has described himself and Barcelona rival Lionel Messi as footballing anomalies for the way they have kept themselves at the top of world football for an unprecedented amount of time.The Real Madrid forward, 29, picked up the third Ballon d’Or trophy of his career on Monday, defeating four-time winner Messi and World Cup-winning Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.Ronaldo acknowledged that he and Messi are two of the only players to have maintained their aura of invincibility for so long, and the Portugal international puts the fulfilling achievements down to hard work.”To be honest, no, I didn’t think I’d be at the top of world football for so many years,” he told Fifa.com. “It all happened so fast. In my opinion, the hardest thing is maintaining that level.”I’m proud to have been in the World XI for eight consecutive years and always vying to be among the best three, as it’s something very few people manage to do. I think just Messi and I have done it, not many more anyway. “I don’t think anyone else has done it eight years in a row, which is why it’s immensely satisfying. Year after year I keep working hard with my club and national team so that I continue to stand out. This recognition is an indication that things are going well and that I’m enjoying an exceptional career.”Ronaldo also expressed he is well aware he will be considered a legend once he hangs up his boots, though he remains uncertain if his mind and body have another decade of footballing action in them.”In truth, I don’t think about my legacy,” he added. “I know I’ll have a place in the history of the game because of what I’m doing and winning, whether at an individual or team level.” know I’ll have a nice page devoted to me between some of the all-time greats, and that makes me happy. I’m 29 now but I feel great, like I’m still 25! I think I can play on for another five, six or seven years at a high level. Beyond that, we’ll have to see.”It’s conceivable I play until I’m 40 years old but, as I said before, it’s a case of seeing how I feel year after year, how motivated I am and if I’m still useful to my team like in the past. “As for going on until 40… If I want to play until then, I will, though I might be dragging myself around by then! But while I’m playing to an acceptable standard – acceptable to me, that is, and at a level my fans and club deserve – then I want to continue. Honestly, though, it’s not something I’m thinking about yet.”The ex-Manchester United forward has been prolific once again for Real Madrid in 2014-15, scoring 33 goals in all competitions as the European champions top La Liga.