Meditation spaces offer an escape from the stress
While the holiday season may spark joy for many, it can also create stress and conjure sadness for others. For college students juggling these mixed emotions with end-of-semester exams, staying on track is a struggle.
Radford University students have access to a number of serene spaces year-round to tackle whatever circumstances they are facing.
Located on the second floor of the Bonnie, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion office in Heth Hall and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC) are mindfulness and meditation rooms.
“Mindfulness is about being fully aware of present moment-to-moment thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations in regards to whatever is happening, without the lens of judgment,” explained Alan Forrest, Ed.D., a professor in the Department of Counselor Education. “It consists of cultivating awareness of the mind and body and living in the here and now. Mindfulness is the practice of simply observing, watching, examining and becoming aware of our authentic self.”
The mindfulness and meditation room in the SRWC is the largest of the three spaces. It opened in July 2019 and is located off the building’s main-campus entryway. It is divided into two rooms to offer different meditative experiences. One room is bright and decorated with several windows, plants and cushions. Students can sit in silence, plug in their laptops or draw in the coloring books scattered across the room. The second room, formerly used for massage therapy, is darker. It is equipped with additional cushions, an essential oil diffuser, a Zen water fountain and an iPad programmed with an application students can use to access guided meditation exercises.
The idea for the unique space came from Liz Greenlee, assistant director for Wellness and Fitness in the SRWC. Greenlee said SRWC staff have been working on several initiatives to change students’ image of the facility as “just a gym” to a “true recreation and wellness center.”
“We approach students’ well-being holistically,” Greenlee said. “It is important to focus on their mental, emotional and social well-being, in addition to their physical wellness.”
Before the new meditation and mindfulness space opened, Greenlee recalled several students visited her office, often visibly overwhelmed, needing to vent or de-stress.
“With mental health being a top priority and challenge for college students across the nation, I knew it was important for our students to have a safe and special place to escape and refocus,” Greenlee said.
Greenlee said, although no formal assessment of the space has been conducted, its popularity among students is evident in the many notes left on her office door.
One note, in particular, stood out to Greenlee. A student wrote about battling depression and anxiety and having a hard time fitting in.
“They wrote that they were very grateful for the space, and it helped them overcome some of these obstacles,” she said.
In addition to the meditation and mindfulness space, the SRWC also offers mindfulness classes and dozens of other fitness and wellness classes, such as yoga, Zumba and cycle. Forrest also highlighted the Peace Garden outside of Peters Hall that also serves as a meditation and mindfulness space.
A full list of classes can be found on the Student Recreation and Wellness Center website.