Mindfulness at the Museum

Screen Shot 2020-02-11 at 6.23.19 PM

Art by Nicole Freewalt

Emma Coffey ~ Staff Writer

     Since Jan., the Daura Gallery at the University of Lynchburg has established quiet hours for Friday afternoons from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to host Mindfulness at the Museum. Laura Cole, coordinator of Academic and Public Engagement at the Daura Gallery, said Jer Bryant, the director of the Wilmer Writing Center and Interfaith Chaplain for Spiritual Life Center, and Dr. Barbara Rothermel, Director of the Daura Gallery, discussed the lack of a meditation space on campus. According to Cole, the purpose of the program is to provide a space to decompress and get people to see art. She said, “Art has its own benefits.”

     Cole said that in addition to the weekly quiet, once a month there will be a guided meditation. Last month, Dr. Steve Dawson led the guided meditation and he focused on walking meditation. Cole said the guided meditation is a place for those who “do not know where to start. Like, it gave me a little bit of direction.”

     According to Cole, there are yoga mats to sit or kneel on, drawing materials, and other things that students can do. She said that students can do whatever they want, such as read or homework, as long as they remain quiet.

     Cole noted that since the campus is so small, there are only so many places students can go to destress, and the gallery is a place to do that. She said, “Students need to take care of themselves.”

     Bryant said, “I believe I mentioned to Barbara Rothermel that the museum had a powerful spiritual presence that could be used for prayer, reflection, and meditation. Many pieces of art there illicit a sublime spiritual feeling in certain viewers.”

     According to him, Mindfulness at the Museum is important for the members of the community to have a safe space to slow down and look within. Bryant said, “Self-care is essential, and we often neglect ‘checking in’ with ourselves. Meditation and silence enable us to pause, reflect, and ruminate. This sort of peacefulness is necessary for wellness.”

     Bryant also said, “Many years ago, I started LC Sangha, a meditation group. Now, Dr. Steve Dawson leads that group. He offers meditation twice a week, and he does a splendid job at serving our community. The idea of offering a space for mindfulness in the gallery just appeared. The idea presented us with another opportunity for offering prayer, reflection, meditation, and silence.”

     According to him, the purpose of this is wellness. He also said that students should come to this because mindfulness presents an opportunity to improve both wellness and the wellness of the community. Bryant said, “I believe that mindfulness helps us improve our emotional wellness, which is often linked to our physical wellness.”