Oftentimes stressful daily schedule and workload that is demanded in college, it is easy for students to forget to reserve time for themselves. Both the Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Club and a relatively new prayer and meditation room on campus are looking to help remind students to do such.

The club, led by senior Haley Hartenstine, a geography major with a concentration in environmental studies and sustainability, has been on campus for almost three years now. It focuses on any mindful practice and incorporatedsdancing, music and art. Any member of the club can lead its meetings, which usually consist of a yoga flow and/or a guided meditation.

“Everyone should know how to free themselves from their thoughts and their stress and stretch their body,” Hartenstine said.

At the involvement fair last week, Hartenstine noticed the faction between students exploring the opportunities that clubs offered them. By the end of the event, the club had over 100 new signees.

“You could just look around and see the different types of people grouping together and I felt like we were the unity within that,” Hartenstine said. “It’s not like you have to be a certain kind of person to come and practice this. Everyone should be.”

The club’s mailing list now includes over 200 students, and although not each of them attend every meeting, Hartenstine says her job is done even if they read an email and are reminded to meditate. She likes hearing when students take time for themselves to relax throughout their daily lives, getting away from their own stressful thoughts and responsibilities, even if only for a brief period of time.

“This suicide awareness [project] is speaking to the mental illness issue here,” Hartenstine said, referring to the purple flags stuck in the grass in the quad, an idea from Active Minds. “There is one, at every college though. If you’re so busy and stressed, you need this. It’s one hour every other week where you can chill. People here convince themselves that they’re too busy to meditate.”

The university also offers a mindfulness course that Hartenstine believes would be beneficial in teaching self-care as a part of a liberal studies.

“There’s a zen saying that goes, ‘You should sit and meditate for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy and you should sit for an hour,’” Hartenstine said.

The club is seeking more funding to bring speakers in for lectures or to go on yoga hikes.

If looking for a private and peaceful setting to get away, students can go to a prayer and meditation room, located on the third floor of the Smith Student Center (SSC.) The room is available to students whenever the SSC is open.

“The Wellness Commission looks at all dimensions of wellness, and historically, spiritual wellness hasn’t received enough attention,” Barbara Billek-Sawhney, a professor in the graduate school of physical therapy, said.

It has become a growing trend to address personal and spiritual wellness on campuses across the country. Last November, Billek-Sawhney helped further that theme, asking President William Behre to find space to dedicate to a room that would allow students a space to practice mindfulness and pass through to pray. It was done within a day.

“It would be unfair of the university not to support the beliefs of others. We’re allowing students to address their own spiritual and religious needs,” Billek-Sawhney said.

Other places on campus that students can get away and be to themselves are rooms such as those in the library, or even by the ponds or in the woods.

“Everyone has to find a place that meets their own personal needs,” Billek-Sawhney said. “And I think that this room is pretty much nondenominational.


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