Kendall Aronson, Campus Carrier Asst. Arts & Livings Editor
|Andrea Hill | CAMPUS CARRIER|
|Top: The group stretches their arms to the ceiling.
Bottom: The lights are turned off as the group sits and meditates in silence.
The Buddhist Studies Club attempts to promote diversity, acceptance, and mindfulness on campus.
Club meetings begin with participants taking off their shoes and discussing a preassigned book or article to learn about Buddhist ideas. Then, participants stretch and do yoga, before going into 15-20 minutes of meditation.
Jeffrey Lidke, an associate professor of religion at Berry College, has been the adviser for the club since its inception five years ago. They have hosted many events and guests, including films, scholars, and even Buddhist monks and nuns to teach and lead the club in meditation. The club even has its own official yoga instructor from Rome.
The meditation each week is led by Lidke. He was taught meditation by his parents when he was five years old.
“I would like them to have a deepened understanding of Buddhist philosophy and practice and knowledge of different living traditions of Buddhism, and ideally even to get engaged in and get committed to a contemplative practice,” Lidke said.
Participants do not need to be Buddhist to attend and join. The club is an interreligious organization, accepting of all religions.
“There can be a lot of similarities found in different faiths,” senior Jessica Chabot, President of the Buddhist Studies Club, said. “I believe we can come together and see our similarities by showing our differences. Everyone has a voice in the group.”
In addition to accepting members of different faiths, the club also accepts people from the Rome community to join the faculty and student participants. About 30 percent of the club’s participants are from the Rome community. Many of these people come because it is the only Buddhist worship group offered in Rome.
Junior Suleima Millan-Salinas, Vice President of the Buddhist Studies Club, thinks it is great to learn from these older participants of the club.
“I have learned how to deal with stress, and how to be more open minded about other people’s ideas and thoughts,” Millan-Salinas said.
In addition to learning meditation, Buddhist club participants in learn to relax and use breathing to focus in other areas of their lives.
“I try to be more in the moment, and appreciate every moment and realize that something doesn’t always have to be going on,” Chabot said.
The club meets on Wednesday nights. Chabot says this is purposeful, because the middle of the week can often be the most stressful. This hour of relaxation during the week can really help students to stay calm.
“It’s a place you can really go to relax and focus on the present moment,” Chabot says.
Chabot encourages curious students to come to the club’s meetings in the Interfaith center at 7 p.m. each week.