Editor's note: This article was originally published in September.
Nationwide, universities have seen a growing need to address issues such as mental health and wellness, stress reduction, and relaxation in their student populations, a Purdue official said.
In light of this trend, the wellness program at the Córdova Recreational Sports Center opened a mindfulness room, which became available to students on the first day of classes this fall.
The new room features chairs and cushions on the floor lining the wall. A small corner alcove reveals a light therapy area, a few feet away from a speaker that plays sounds from nature.
Those who enter the mindfulness room are met with guidelines and a survey to fill out. Among other things, participants are prompted to remove their shoes and silence their devices upon entering the room. The survey is to gauge the difference between people’s state of mind when the enter they room and when they leave.
Tammy Loew, the senior assistant director for wellness at the Co-Rec, explained that the mindfulness room is not finished quite yet.
“It’s not at 100 percent completion, but it is absolutely in a place where students can use it and have been using it since the beginning of school,” Loew said.
She said the idea for the new space had been in the works for two years in conversations between the wellness program and the Co-Rec Campus Improvement Team, a team that works “to create a safe and healthy environment for our students, by reducing the harmful effects of alcohol,” according to the Co-Rec website.
Consequently, Loew and her team wrote a grant proposal last year to the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction, to look at two things:
“One of them had to do with addressing the needs (of) students who may want a substance-free lifestyle and are feeling challenged by that,” she said. “And the need to address mindfulness with students on campus.”
Purdue is one of three college campuses in the state of Indiana that received the grant. The wellness team spent time visiting other colleges to see how they deal with student wellness, as well as surveying Purdue students to see what their interests were.
Loew said that the grant gave her office the opportunity to work with Evan Perrault, a Purdue communication professor.
“(He is) a researcher, but also an evaluator,” Loew said. “Evaluation is a key component of this project for us, because we have to make sure that we’re figuring out the best way to meet the needs of our students.”
Perrault said that his role is to measure the impact of the mindfulness room.
“We will use a combination of both self-report survey measures, as well as in-depth interviews with individuals who utilize the space,” Perrault said via email.
That initial survey was how Yan Wang, a senior in the College of Engineering who helped fund the mindfulness room, got involved with the wellness program.
“I heard (about it) from a COM 114 survey which my girlfriend was taking at the time,” Wang said via text message.
He explained that he was not very involved in the overall process, but that he spoke with Loew about concerns and recommendations. Loew appreciated Wang’s behind-the-scenes dedication to the development of the mindfulness room.
Wang said that he donated money to the mindfulness room because generosity is the first part of the six perfections that Buddhists practice.
“I am just giving my support to the people who are working on giving Purdue a joyful (yet) peaceful place that’s great for meditation practitioners or just starters,” Wang said.
He believes that the mindfulness room can be a birthplace for people learning to use meditation more commonly in their lives, without having to visit a physical place to do so.
“He wasn’t a student that wanted a lot of recognition, which was even more beautiful to me,” Loew said.
The mindfulness room is open to anyone who can swipe into the Co-Rec while it is open, including students, faculty, staff and regular members.