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By: Abigail Donaghy

It’s not too often that you walk into a college lecture and on the table is a stuffed wolf, a drum, an angel statue, and a toy llama.

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, The Institute for Holistic Health Studies, Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation, Office of InterCultural Affairs and Honors Students of Compassion at WCSU presented “Multicultural Meditation Night” in the Midtown Student Center. Dr. Kukk opened the event, which featured more than a dozen lectures dealing with spirituality and meditation, with a reading from Rollo May’s Courage to Create about the importance of exploring one’s imagination, which, he said, the event was all about. Presentations included “Breath, Balance, and Motion,” by Lara Ward, “Loving Kindness Meditation,” by Deborah Augenbraun, and “Meet Your Spirit Animal” by Deana Paqua.

Paqua opened her lecture, “Meet Your Spirit Animal” (or, as she prefers, Power Animal), by asking if anyone remembered specific moments in which they felt an animal served as a guide. Later on, she brought out a drum and led students into what she called a primitive “Third World” to meet their spirit animals. She said the animal may or may not appear, depending on whether or not it was a student’s first time meditating.

Paqua also talked about shamanism, a spiritual form of healing that involves “surrendering a problem” and turning it over to a greater power. Animals, she said, were our guides to do so. 

Paqua said that, in meditation, “one of the most important things is reverence and respect for nature and all the beings in nature. They really are our teachers and can be our guardians and our guides, but we really need to take the time to honor and respect them, and that can benefit our own personal health and wellbeing.”

Multicultural Meditation Night happens every year and has proven to be a great way to help students learn strategies for de-stressing. Jessica Lin, Assistant Director of the Honors Program, said of the pressures of being a college student:

“result in a high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression that our students are not prepared for and do not know how to handle on their own. Meditation comes with numerous benefits and there are so many different types of meditation out there. We do our best every year to gather passionate and dedicated workshop presenters from all backgrounds to expose out students and the Danbury community to meditation in hopes that they will find one that is best fit for their lives.”

In an increasingly stressful society, programs like Multicultural Meditation are a great way to help people of all ages connect to themselves and the world around them.