by Dylan Axsom
West Campus Associate Editor
Starting a new semester is a stressful time for everyone, especially new students. The process of filing for FAFSA, finding scholarships, and then having to purchase books and supplies can become overwhelming.
Luckily, Tulsa Community College’s West Campus has recently added a new Meditation Room to its library in order to promote mental and physical health among students, as well as boost TCC’s message of diversity and inclusion.
A Meditation Room is a safe place where anyone in the TCC community can go to relax and ease his/her mind from a stress-filled day.
Students are encouraged to use the space to pray, meditate, or engage in self-reflection.
The Meditation Room was established after Megan Donald, a librarian at West, took a tour of Oklahoma City Community College and saw the room the school had installed.
Upon returning, she and the other librarians started conducting research, looking for other colleges in the country that had similar rooms, and what benefits they provided to students.
They found that several schools, including Duke University and Santa Clara College of Law, had Meditation Rooms integrated into their libraries because of the mental and physical benefits that they can provide.
One study, published in the Journal of American College Health, found that mindfulness meditation “lowers stress in college students and also increases forgiveness.”
New research also found that meditation could result in changes to neuroplasticity, which the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and become more efficient by creating new neural connections.
According to the same article and another one published by BioMed Research International, both listed “attention control, emotion regulation and self-awareness” as a few of the psychological benefits meditation can provide for a student.
There are physiological benefits to meditation as well.
A study published in the Health Psychology Journal in 2013 showed that mindfulness meditation was linked to reduced levels of cortisol – a stress hormone. And while some stress is necessary, too much can lead to various negative symptoms including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, a suppressed immune system, and weight gain.
One employee at West, who asked to remain anonymous, used the room and said that “it lowered my blood pressure readings” after using breathing techniques they had learned.
Colleges are not the only schools using such rooms.
Robert W. Coleman Elementary, a school in Baltimore, uses a “Mindful Moment Room.”
Here, children are sent to take deep breathes and calm down rather than being sent to the principal’s office or detention.
Representatives of the elementary school told CNN that there were zero suspensions given to students since the installation in 2013 through 2016. There were four given in the year prior to the installation.
After seeing all of the evidence, the librarians began brainstorming ideas. Together, they came up with a proposal and a simple – but effective – room design to present to the school board.
TCC’s room is a repurposed storage closet located in the back right corner in the library.
It is accompanied by a small table in front filled with books on meditation and the like. Inside there are yoga mats and several Zenergy ball chairs, all softly illuminated by the strings of lights at the back wall, setting the calming mood appropriate for meditating.
Since sending the proposal in summer 2016, the room has become quite an attraction.
The Meditation Room is available during library hours and is filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Group meditation is always encouraged if more than one person would like to use the room at the same time. Guided meditation is also offered twice weekly, but times and days are still to be announced.
For questions or more information, contact the library by phone at 918.595.8010 or by email at email@example.com.