New spiritual wellness sessions emphasize need for self-care

Wellness+sessions+are+held+every+Wednesday+from+5%3A00+p.m.+to+6%3A30+p.m.+in+the+Interfaith+Chapel+in+Hogg+Hall.

Photo by Shirley Liu

Wellness sessions are held every Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Interfaith Chapel in Hogg Hall.

Lafayette students practiced their downward dog poses this past Wednesday in Hogg Hall’s Interfaith Chapel. The weekly wellness sessions of the group, tentatively named Spiritual Wellness x SKY Campus Happiness, create a space for students to unlock their spiritual side.

The idea for the club and the sessions came about last year when Jimmy Barrios ‘22 started a group to practice yoga, a hobby he shared with his father.

Heavenly Anderson ‘24 planned to continue the efforts after Barrios graduated last spring. When she heard that Shreya Suresh ‘25 was also interested in bringing meditation and wellness techniques to Lafayette, the club was born.

Each weekly workshop will have a topic or theme. The topic for this past Wednesday’s workshop was body awareness.

According to Suresh, body awareness is “becoming aware of how stress manifests in your body so you can recognize when you’re feeling stressed and decide what you want to do about it.”

Suresh, who is a certified meditation facilitator, has been involved in meditation since she was eight.

“I didn’t take full advantage of the tools I was given until I came into college,” she said. Now, she is bringing her experience to the Lafayette student body.

An important value of the program to Suresh is making it accessible for any and all kinds of people.

“It’s from 5:00 to 6:30 every Wednesday in Hogg in the Interfaith Chapel, but you don’t have to come the whole time,” Suresh said. “You don’t have to come every week. So it’s whenever you can, whenever you need it, just show up and we’ll be happy to see you there.”

Like Suresh, Anderson has been driven to spread knowledge on wellness after discovering the benefits it has in her own life. For her, spiritual exploration and breathwork have been helpful ways to find peace in her identity.

“The calm is really in us,” Anderson said. “I feel like being a Black person in a PWI [predominantly white institution], and even at home around other Black people, it’s a very tense life to live and it’s out of your hands sometimes, but it doesn’t have to consume.”

Anderson has been involved with Transcendental Meditation, a form of silent mantra meditation, since 2019. Prior to that, she practiced zazen meditation, which she learned in Japan.

The wellness workshops will be taught by Brent Maczko, a yoga and mindfulness teacher from the Phillipsburg School District. He has been sharing his spiritual knowledge both in and out of the classroom for the past decade.

Suresh hopes these sessions will help students deal with the stress of college life. “Walking around campus, you can feel the excitement and all the positive feelings, but you can also just feel the stress… You can feel it, and it gets to you,” she said.

“Even if you’re having a good day, you can [feel] someone else’s stress and then you kind of fall into that as well. And it kind of takes away from enjoying the process of college and enjoying the journey if you’re always in that state of stress,” Suresh continued.

The group is currently in the process of becoming an official club on campus. Until then, they will continue to meet weekly and share the principles of self-care.

“I think it is just the whole world that needs to learn about how they can take care of themselves, because we’ve kind of fallen away from that,” Suresh said.

The board members hope that the organization will create a strong sense of community among participating students.

“I’m most excited to have another small community on campus that people know they can turn to whenever they’re going through [something],” Suresh said. “Because I think that things like this really, really cultivate a sense of belonging.”

Shirley Liu ‘23 contributed reporting.