Kent State offers renovated meditation room to all students

Helen Yablonski

On the second floor of the Student Center, students of all backgrounds have an improved space to practice prayer and meditation on campus.

Kent State has given students and staff the opportunity to utilize an updated meditation room. The new meditation room replaces an existing prayer room previously located in the “lost leaders” lounge of the Student Center.

What used to be a windowless 4-by-4 room has been replaced by a 550 square foot meditation space. Reopened in January 2017, the space is fully equipped with a foot washing station and meditation wall.

In addition to other changes, the new area offers storage for student’s personal belongings as well a larger more comfortable place to practice worship and self-reflection.

Zeynep Ozgur, a junior integrated life sciences major, said she stops by the meditation room once or twice a day when she is on campus. She uses the meditation room to perform her daily prayers.

“I am Muslim, and in Islam we are required perform prayer to God five times a day,” Ozgur said.

As a student commuter, she finds it difficult to perform her prayers in a place with little or no distractions.

“Sometimes when Muslims pray in public, people may cut in front of them or try to interact with them because they are unaware,” Ozgur said.

During Muslim worship, a person should not cut or stand towards a person during their prayers. Outside interruptions are also put aside to focus on worship only.  

“By having this meditation room, I don’t worry about other distractions or where I will be praying next,” Ozgur said.

Soumya Yalamanchili, a public health graduate student, said she visits the space to perform meditation with her friends.

Yalamanchili practices a form of yoga called Sudarshan Kriya and uses the room daily for 30 minutes.

“This technique cleanses all parts of the body, mind, breath and ego… it purifies all the layers to get the positive energy, and just let go of all the negative things,” Yalamanchili said.

Yalamanchili said she remembers a time on campus when the meditation room was not available for students. She found it difficult to find quiet spaces on campus, or in her own home to practice her meditation.

“I used to go to my friend’s place, and we both would go to the laundry room, and we practiced,” Yalamanchili said.

Yalamanchili said she is grateful that she and her friends now have a space to utilize and practice their craft, and is currently involved in a volunteer training program to help others practice yoga. With this training, she will be able to organize courses and educate people about the benefits of meditation.

Creating this space is part of the Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State.

The initiative includes a push for university to become more all-inclusive for students. The meditation room cannot be reserved, but is available to anyone during Student Center building hours.

“I feel like it shows respect to my religious practices as well as to people of other faiths,” Ozgur said. “It makes religious practice more accessible.”

Helen Yablonski is the religion reporter. Contact her a [email protected].