Karen Lin, Contributing Photographer
While the pandemic has closed off physical access to Yale’s Good Life Center, the center’s team is continuing to provide virtual programming for students.
The Good Life Center — launched in 2018 after Silliman Head of College Laurie Santos’ class “Psychology and the Good Life” drew over 1,000 enrollees — is normally housed in the fourth floor of Silliman College. According to the center’s website, the Good Life Center is “a cultivated space to inspire, teach, and practice living the good life.” In a normal year, students could spend time in the center’s lounge, which features a tea station and physical comforts corner. They could also visit the study or the sandbox — a silent, tech-free zone. Although students cannot use these spaces now, weekly newsletters from the GLC advertise various Zoom events.
“I think in some ways the virtual format has actually made our events more accessible,” GLC Woodbridge Fellow Alexa Vaghenas ’20 said. “Students can easily pop into a workshop or guided meditation as they please, for instance, without having to travel to Silliman College.”
According to Santos, who founded the center, the GLC has been able to keep much of its old programming, including meditation classes, yoga and wellness chats.
Recently publicized virtual events include “Mindfulness and Gratitude Meditation” — which currently runs on Thursdays and Sundays — high-intensity interval training workouts and an upcoming workshop on how to feel “focused and organized” by paying attention to study space setup.
“We’ve also developed some new programming specifically for the current situation,” Santos wrote in an email to the News.
Santos explained that Vaghenas has designed a new series of events relevant to the current conditions on how athletes are handling the change that comes with losing normal season programming. The program is a partnership with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Emma Mangiacapre ’24, who is on the Yale gymnastics team, told the News that the uncertainty of the upcoming season has been stressful. The GLC’s new programming aims to address that stress.
“It gives me a lot of anxiety, personally,” she said. “And I’m sure a lot of my teammates and other athletes feel that too. Skillwise, we’re very behind. Normally, at this time, we will be starting official practice, which is where hours increase, and we can really start focusing in [on] our routines.”
On top of the new student-athlete programming, Vaghenas has been organizing various other social events, such as movie nights and dance workouts, Santos said. More recently, according to Vaghenas, the center has partnered with the Yale University Art Gallery to lead a “Being Present With Art” series, which will include both guided meditation for students and art-inspired exercises, such as drawing and storytelling.
The GLC’s overarching theme this year is “Compassion and Action,” which has led to a partnership with cultural centers at Yale to provide training in issues relating to race and inclusivity.
“By organizing wellness programming through this lens, the center hopes to promote compassion for people from all backgrounds as well as action against injustice through activism and allyship,” Santos said.
Now, the center is also beginning to provide some in-person events. For the next four weekends, Lulu Zhang LAW ’23 will host outdoor yoga for 10 people or fewer on Cross Campus.
Vaghenas noted that the challenges of this year have also called for the creation of a new committee — the Good Life Center Student Advisory Board.
“Student Advisory Board members act as liaisons between Good Life Center leadership and the broader Yale community, informing us about student needs for specialized wellness programming during these unusual times,” she said.
The GLC is normally located at 505 College St.
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