Northwest adds serenity room to campus environment

Northwest's Staff Council has designated two rooms in North Complex, the old Missouri Academy building, as Serenity Rooms for students to utilize for prayer, meditation and exercising spiritual wellness.

Students can now utilize a new set of spaces on campus that aim to provide spiritual and religious well-being.

Two former dorm rooms on the second floor of North Complex were recently opened to students as Serenity Rooms. Student Senate recently appropriated $300 to furnish the Serenity Rooms.

The idea was initially discussed by Northwest’s staff council last fall. It spent months deciding on possible locations.

Following the closing of the Missouri Academy, staff council was presented with an opportunity for potential space at North Complex.

Staff Council member Alex Cruz said the rooms were part of an initiative by former hall director Beth Little to help increase Northwest’s inclusivity.

In the United States, more than 18 million people use some form of meditation.

Moreover, approximately 68 percent of followers of both Christianity and Islam say they pray, according to the Pew Research Center.

Rooms 232 and 234 at North Complex were recently cleaned out and opened for students to use from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the rooms contain very little at the moment.

“We’re always interested in seeing what we can do to support the students,” Cruz said.

Cruz said he and the council are using this time to promote the room and get feedback from students.

Students are advised to bring a mat or blanket if intending to use either room.

Before these rooms, students had to check out rooms in the union or library if they wanted private space away from the dorms.

“We didn’t want it to be a process where people would have to sign up and go through this whole ‘Is it open or is it closed?” Cruz said.

For Northwest’s Wellness Services, spiritual wellness is a key element in its holistic wellness approach.

Wellness Services Assistant Director of Outreach and Education BK Taylor said that spiritual wellness in their perspective is just as important as physical, social or emotional wellness for a person.

Taylor was enthusiastic about the opening of the rooms and was hopeful its purpose would shine a light on the importance of spiritual wellness.

“The idea of spiritual wellness is you’re going into that space to connect with something greater,” Taylor said.

Taylor recalled something that was said to him by Wellness Services counselor Mike Maddock, a licensed psychologist, which always stuck with him.

“There is no being an expert in meditation,” Taylor said. “If it’s your first day or if it’s your one-hundredth year, meditation is about being there.”

Taylor challenged the stigmas and misconceptions that many people have for spiritual health, saying that how you perceive and experience everyday things in life, such as in a college class, can be connected to one’s spiritual well-being.

“If they’re (students) not satisfied with what they’re doing, I would reflect on that spiritual wellness,” Taylor said. “Maybe you weren’t finding that thing where your heart really is.”

Taylor was happy to see Northwest embrace aspects of wellness that often go unnoticed.

Staff Council is working to make the student body more aware of the rooms and hopes that the number of students using it will begin to grow.

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