Recognizing student stress as a mental health challenge, SUNY Oneonta created a dedicated space for meditation and mindfulness.

“It is a space where students can de-stress through the use of meditative practices,” health educator Rebecca Harrington said in a CNY News interview. “There is lots of strong research showing that moments of quietness, where we focus on our breathing and being in the moment, are really healing techniques that we can do for our bodies.”

Students learn to focus on breathing and positive affirmations. The meditation room will soon have an aromatherapy device which uses essential oils to fill the space with pleasing scents and an audio system for so-called sound bathing.

“Smells can transport us,” Harrington said. “The olfactory sensors in the brain are really powerful. And regarding sound bathing we have a beautiful set of Woodstock chimes, one of those with big base notes.”

The facility, located in Lee Hall, is being spearheaded by SUNY’s Office of Health Education in conjunction with a group called the Oneonta Mindfulness Initiative.

The meditation room has capacity of 19 people at a time. Plans are under consideration to have a lectures series after the Covid pandemic winds down.

“We’re currently in a soft launch mode,” Harrington said. “We’re mostly trying to be open from noon until 6 P.M. Monday through Friday for drop-in meditation.”

Harrington is recruiting volunteers, interns and members of Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity on campus.

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