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Tucked Into Ohio State, A Small Place To Meditate

Debbie Holmes

The room is about the size of a large closet.  There's a table and a flower arrangement on the floor, a stool sitting against a wall, and one bench. No pictures hang on the walls.

Nestled inside Arps Hall on North High Street, the room is a pretty plain retreat - but a peaceful one.

The anxiety around last November's attack on the Ohio State campus led some school officials to create a meditation room for students, faculty and staff.

Cheryl Achterberg,dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology, says the idea came from roundtable discussions with students after the attack.

"What I heard was a lot of anxiety and uneasiness and the desire to have a space where people could truly meditate, reflect and withdraw if they wish for a little while in a safe, quiet place," Achterberg says.

Achterberg says the student union has a larger room for reflection and prayer, complete with a foot washing station. But especially for students whose religious faiths require regular prayer, she says it can be inconvenient to visit that side of campus.

The meditation room, though, is purposefully not aligned to any particular faith.

"In other times, other people may not be of any particular faith but they still wish to experience a mediative place where they can basically explore and reflect on the inside without a lot of external stimuli," Achterberg says.

Faculty and staff have also expressed interest in a place to retreat.

"Staff have sent me e-mails on occasion, and students have too, thanking me for creating this space for them," Achterberg says. "There isn't any enforcer, monitor, timekeeper, but I'm hearing input voluntarily from people who are using the room and are grateful for it."

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.