The newest space opened by the Chaplain’s Office aims —as its name suggests —to give students juggling hectic schedules a chance to “breathe.”
Breathing Space, an initiative that began on Sept. 4, opens a reading room, bathroom and meditation room in the basement of Welch Hall’s entryway C to students from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The goal of the center is to provide undergraduates and graduate students alike with a technology-free zone that offsets the “hustle and bustle of their days,” University Chaplain Sharon Kugler said in a Wednesday email. Though student organizers said publicizing the new spot has been difficult, they said they hope Breathing Space will become a popular hangout once more students learn of its existence.
At Breathing Space, students can read religious texts, talk with friends, grab free snacks, meditate in a room with floor cushions and an indoor waterfall, and take part in various arts and crafts activities. Though the centeroffers weekly religious text studies, Kugler said Breathing Space is not designed to target any specific religious or spiritual traditions but rather offer a spot for students to unwind.The center is staffed by 10 student workers every week, Breathing Space’s coordinator Ivy Onyeador ’11.
In an effort to separate students from constant emails and other daily stresses, Breathing Space does not allow technological devices such as cell phones, laptops and iPods. Kate Stratton DIV ’12, who runs a weekly arts and crafts session called “Time for the Soul” at Breathing Space, said the absence of these personal electronics creates a “no-pressure zone” that gives students a way to “recharge.”
“Breathing Space is a no-gain zone —people don’t come to accomplish something,” Stratton said. “But there’s something meaningful about stepping out of your rat-race schedule to stop and just ‘be.’”
Three students interviewed who have been to the space said they enjoyed their visits.
Klara Wojtkowska GRD ’13, who visited Breathing Space for the first time Wednesday night to meditate, said she likes the spot because it offers a reprieve from Yale’s often competitive and hectic environment.
“Yale is a place where everyone emphasizes the connections you make here, so there’s a pressure in making those connections and bridging those gaps,” Wojtkowska said. “It’s very different to find a place… that I can go to just ‘be’ and think about ‘being’ instead of always ‘reacting.’”
Onyeador said publicizing the center has been difficult, and only one of 11Yalies interviewed who had not visited Breathing Space said they had heard of the initiative. But nine of those 11 students said they would “definitely” consider visiting the spot.
Tong Zhan ’13 said the initiative sounded “wonderful” and could provide a much-needed break for students with busy schedules.
Onyeador said she expects the space will become more popular throughout the year. So far, she said she has advertised the initiative by posting fliers on campus bulletin boardsand sending emails to spiritual and religious groups. She addedthat she and others helping with the center plan to pass out “vouchers” during finals week that will encourage students to drop by Breathing Space for 15 minutes.
Yale Religious Ministries groups can reserve the space in 60- or 90-minute slots for sacred text studies once a week.