Relaxing is the only requirement in Contemplative Studies Group
January 31, 2013 By Elizabeth Trollinger
first meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Professors Aaron Godlaski
(left), Christian Haskett and Kyle Anderson will lead those who
attend in meditative practices, discuss contemplation and
welcome guest speakers on the subject.
As a new semester begins at Centre College, students, faculty and staff are already exploring a new initiative on campus that can help them learn to relax, reflect and meditate.
The Contemplative Studies Group will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Ewen Room of the Campus Center, starting with its first meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5. All in the Centre community are welcome to attend.
Funded by a faculty advancement grant from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS), the group will be led by Kyle Anderson, assistant professor of Chinese; Aaron Godlaski, assistant professor of psychology; and Christian Haskett, assistant professor or religion.
“This is something we know will enrich campus culture and benefit students, staff and faculty,” Anderson says.
The idea for the group came in part from the professors’ interactions with students.
“I always liked the idea of teaching students how to meditate and incorporating it into the curriculum. We did meditation activities in my Intro to Psychology class. It’s another approach to learning,” Godlaski says. “When I was [a visiting professor] here in 2011, I said to some students, ‘You guys appear to be stressed out regularly. Would you be into this kind of group if it existed?’ They said yes.”
The three professors—who have all taught classes on relaxation and meditation or have incorporated it into their curriculum—plan to use their diverse backgrounds to their benefit with the Contemplative Studies Group. Each of them will lead one of the meetings, incorporating their own knowledge and experience into their week’s session. Visiting speakers—including monks, professors and activists—will also talk on their experiences with meditation.
“We each bring different experiences, and we have the opportunity to do different interdisciplinary things with those experiences,” Haskett says.
“We’ll all take different approaches. For instance, I’ll focus on stress reduction, coping with day-to-day difficulties, finding new ways to interact with that stress as opposed to just reacting to it,” says Godlaski. “We want to bring people together and share the process, and hopefully people will take that and incorporate it into their own experiences. I hope people will leave our sessions and take that awareness into their other activities.”
“What’s fun is that it’s really open,” agrees Anderson. “This will be truly exploratory—we’re not putting ourselves up as masters or gurus with a heritage or legacy. We’re teachers in the classroom with an interest in this and have seen, in our own personal experiences, its benefits. We wanted to share that with community.”
The three professors hope that the Contemplative Studies Group will help students get more out of the Centre experience.
“Here we are at Centre, working on ‘the light of the mind,’” Haskett says. “This group shows different ways to work on it.”