Photo: WCSU IHHS

By: Abigail Donaghy

“Your mind is like a dirty bucket,” said Valerie West-Rosenthal as she led a meditation exercise on Monday. “Every time you meditate, it’s like you’re putting a drop of clean water into that bucket. Over time and with patience and practice, the bucket will become clear.”

On Monday, Oct. 14, Western Connecticut State University’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies (IHHS) hosted a “Meditation for Creativity” night in the Gallery of the Visual and Performing Arts Center. Christel Autuori, director of IHHS, opened the meeting by talking about the Wellness Center on campus and the significance of the programs it offers. Meditation, she said, “helps to mitigate and counteract the stress response and invoke the relaxation response. It provides the opportunity for the mind, body, and spirit, to rest and recharge so that we can pause and. respond rather than react in a stressful situation.” 

After Autuori’s opening remarks, West-Rosenthal, a studio art and psychology major and IHHS intern, began a guided meditation exercise. She had the participants close their eyes and encouraged them to imagine themselves in a desert. She then guided them through this space, meeting various “creative guides” and addressing obstacles that may hinder creativity along the way. The focus of the exercise was to “just be.” The peaceful space of the gallery and West-Rosenthal’s calming voice left the participants feeling more relaxed and open than when they had arrived.

IHHS offers services in the Wellness Center in Room 119 of Berkshire Hall which are free and open to all students and faculty, and they host Wellness Wednesday workshops and monthly meditations on the second Tuesday of every month.

On Nov. 13, Dr. Aly Cohen from Princeton University will be on hand to discuss environmental exposure and its impact on mental health at 7:30 p.m. in Ives Concert Hall. There is also an end-of-semester “stress buster” on Wednesday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Warner Hall. The event will feature therapy dogs, aromatherapy, and stress management.

Personally, they had me at dogs.