Junne Park, Photo Editor

As the first half of the academic year comes to a close, students are bustling to wrap up the semester. The coming weeks will be packed with final exams, class presentations, projects, reports and papers — an altogether stressful and exhausting time.

For the month of December, the Interfaith Chapel will be hosting spiritual study breaks for students to alleviate the approaching academic anxiety.

“Everyone needs a small breather,” freshman Melody Kaohu said. “Students are already getting stressed as finals are coming around.”

These spiritual study breaks are “opportunities for students to engage in a variety of centuries-old spiritual practices common to all religious traditions,” according to Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Denise Yarbrough,

By incorporating practices and exercises from a range of religions, these study breaks will help students focus their minds and lighten their stress load.

“I think it’s fantastic that our University offers such spiritual outlets for students to feel more at ease at their home away from home,” sophomore Koji Muto said. “It’s also great that they don’t cater toward a single faith but rather focuses on the spirituality inherent in all religions.”

The common theme of these study breaks is meditation and peaceful prayer. For example, a Taizé service will integrate chants from five different world religions — Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufism — to create a quiet, contemplative mood.

Additionally, the Chapel has planned an old, traditional meditative walking exercise through a labyrinth.

“This is designed to help the participant relax, focus and sharpen the mind, and the body movement provides a kinesthetic way to pray,” Yarbrough said.

The Chapel, which is located across from the iconic Rush Rhees Library and the open Easman Quadrangle, stands as another beautiful and distinctive piece of UR’s River Campus. Built in 1970, it serves as a religious gathering hub for students of various faiths. Advocating virtues like community, diversity and hospitality, the Chapel strives to offer students the opportunity to practice, learn and explore religion.

“Being healthy in the spirit and soul is as important to academic and social success as any other aspect of one’s health,” Yarbrough explained. “The college years are extremely important and formative years in young adult maturation and being mindful of the spiritual dimension of the person you are becoming is every bit as important as memorizing facts and writing papers.”

Freshman George Iwaoka recognizes the potential of these programs.

“If you’re going to sit around and bum about finals, you might as well sit and meditate,” he said. “Study breaks would be really effective if students took advantage of it.”

Yoon is a member of
the class of 2016.

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