With the start of a new semester, Spacious, a meditation-based Student Interest Group, has gained popularity.
In the middle of the academic year, when stress begins to take hold of the student body and one-time events such as Love Your Body Week and REACH’s Doggy Destress do not offer a long-term solution to the problem, Spacious offers a simple and regular way to destress and practice self-awareness. With an increased number of sessions, as well as planned meditation trips off campus, this SIG has certainly resurfaced this semester with an aim to promote mindfulness at NYU Abu Dhabi.
The current president of Spacious, Tona Carapia Valle, Class of 2021, shares his thoughts on the changes taking place in Spacious. “We did pretty much a complete overhaul of the scheduling… [however] we still try to retain the original idea of Spacious,” Valle shared.
One of the initial goals included creating a community in which students can get used to meditating in order to make it part of their daily routine. What the SIG's new leadership added, however, was an increased number of weekly meditation sessions.
“I first learned about the Spacious SIG through the weekly meditation schedules that they had posted around campus,’ said Matthew Holmes, Class of 2022.
“I have been meditating for around three years now and I decided to join because it seemed like a good place to improve my practice of meditation.”
“I was a bit hesitant [to join sessions] at first,” added Holmes. “Meditation has always been a very independent and personal thing for me and it was new to meditate in a group. However, I think it has been very beneficial for me because having that community come together and share their ideas and experiences with mindfulness is very helpful to improving your own practice.”
There is no base-level of knowledge required when attending meditations with Spacious. From those who practice it regularly to those who have never done or even heard of meditation before, all are welcome to attend one of the weekly sessions.
Elena Sepetovska, Class of 2022, is an active SIG member. She joined Spacious this semester after hesitating during her first fall in Abu Dhabi. New to the practice, Sepetovska said, “I like to think about meditation as a process of self reflection. Practicing it everyday helped me a lot in becoming aware of who I am.”
Moreover, Sepetovska feels that meditation helps her understand her emotions better and teaches her to be accepting and loving of herself.
Many people have heard of the word meditation, but relatively few are familiar with the actual process behind this concept. SIG President Valle offered his perception about the process of meditation.
“A lot of people have this misconception in which a meditation is boring and all it is about is just sitting down, thinking about nothing while you could be doing more productive things with your day,” says Valle. “But we facilitate all these sessions because we do think it’s something incredibly productive.”
“Meditation to me is a lifestyle,” reflects Spacious’ president. “You just stop to care for yourself for a moment. You’re with your own thoughts, you are calm and concentrated on taking care of yourself, to giving a moment to yourself which we [students] generally don’t do because we are so busy running around places.”
“One important distinction to make is that meditation doesn’t have to be religious or spiritual in any way. It can just be a simple mind practice in which you just train your own thoughts,” noted Valle.
“Meditation is not stopping your thinking. There is this misconception that meditation is a practice in which you leave your mind blank... But that’s not meditation. Meditation is a practice in which you consistently work with your own thoughts. It’s not that you’re thinking about anything, you are thinking of very specific things in a very relaxed way.”
Sepetovska believes it’s beneficial to attend at least one Spacious session regardless of prior experience.
“I encourage everyone who hasn’t tried meditation, but also those who have tried it and for some reason gave up on practicing it regularly, to come to Spacious and give it a try. Maybe it will be just a relaxing time after an exhausting day, but maybe you will find even more value in it and decide to keep on going.”
Editor’s Note: During the Spring 2019 semester, Spacious hosts its meditation sessions in the morning from Monday to Wednesday (8:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.) and at night from Sunday to Wednesday (8:45 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.)
Anna Pustovoit is Deputy Features Editor. Email her at email@example.com.