Students seek refuge in quiet space on campus
THE SANTA CLARA
October 2, 2014
The most peaceful room on campus is in the middle of Benson Memorial Center.
Located on the side of the information desk near Campus Ministry, the Meditation Room is a silent, secluded sanctuary for students of all faiths.
Although the room is clearly labeled and has the same hours as Benson, hundreds of students pass within feet of it everyday, never noticing this sacred space. The room’s “hidden-in-plain-sight” nature allows it to blend into the background. Upon entering, the bustle of Benson disappears and one soon becomes immersed in a quiet calm.
The feeling of passing the threshold into the silent space is like diving underwater at a pool party. First, one takes a moment to remove their shoes, gather their breath and then they go right in.
“I’d recommend going in there at least once,” said freshman Fernando Guinto. “It’s a cleansing experience.”
Everything about the room is muted. The gray, bamboo- patterned carpet on the floor muffles footsteps. The soundproof walls feature no decorations. The dimmed lights offer the same feeling as a crisp, overcast Santa Clara morning. The room is furnished with stools and pillows that demand prayerful posture for comfort. A faint hissing sound offers a light, blanket of white noise to put the mind at ease. There are no clocks.
The serene room offers students a refuge in the midst of college stress. It serves the purpose its donors and Campus Ministry had in mind when the space was first created. David and Peggy Wroe helped fund the space in memory of their late son and class of 2009 alumnus, Patrick.
In the room, students have space to connect with themselves and the divine on a deeper level. Julia Claire Landry, director of resident and graduate student ministry, said, “We wanted to offer the opportunity for students to connect with God, however, they connect with God.”
The room was first conceived to offer Muslim students a place for daily prayers. However, it has taken on a larger role since its construction in 2009.
Freshman Liv Johnson visits the Meditation Room twice a day to practice transcendental meditation. Johnson said, “I go in there and within 10 seconds I can go from being furious to having my mind cleared and into transcendence. I walk out of the room feeling refreshed, like a whole new person.”
A guestbook invites students to offer their thoughts on the experience in the room after spending some time in serenity. Students seem to share similar effects from the calmness of the room as the book is dominated by expressions of revival and gratitude for the break from daily life and grief.
For example, one student wrote, “Needed a place to cry, thank you.”
Perhaps what makes this room so special was the lingering air of sup- port and love, as exemplified in the comment added just below, “Don’t cry, you’re beautiful and I love you.”
Contact John Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4854.