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New initiative promotes mindfulness, meditation among ASU students

Mindful ASU aims to provide spaces for meditation and mindful activities on ASU campuses, beginning with Tempe

Students, staff and faculty participate in Mindful ASU's first event, an interfaith meditation at the Tempe campus on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

Students, staff and faculty participate in Mindful ASU's first event, an interfaith meditation at the Tempe campus on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

A new initiative is providing meditation spaces and mindfulness resources for ASU students.

The initiative, Mindful ASU, is aiming to bring mindfulness, meditation and other contemplative resources to students on ASU campuses, beginning with Tempe. The initiative is a collaboration between the Council of Religious Advisors, ASU students and faculty members.

It kicked off with an interfaith meditation event at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing in Tempe on Thursday evening.

Mindful ASU has identified 14 spaces on the Tempe campus that could be used for meditation and other mindfulness exercises. Each space also has a specific theme associated with it. For example, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing house theme is Words. Other spaces include Old Main, with a theme of Tradition — the downstairs courtyard at the ASU Art Museum, with a theme of Water; and the Rose Garden, with a theme of Grow.

Mindful ASU’s goal is to launch first a website, and then an interactive app that can direct students to these spaces, as well as provide supplementary secular and faith based resources for students to use while they are there. Each space will also be given identifying signage to showcase the theme.

Chad Sundin, the Chaplain of the Episcopal Campus Ministries at ASU and Madeline Dolgin, an Innovation Specialist and Springboard Fellow at Hillel are two members of CORA helping to facilitate the initiative. 

Sundin said Mindful ASU aims to provide students with resources they can use immediately, right where they are, rather than seeing mindfulness as another commitment.

“They don’t have to think ‘I can’t possibly think about de-stressing, I’m too busy.' Well no, here’s the place right here and we're going to help you,” he said. “Here’s something you can do to find your breath, to find a sense of well-being. Even if you only have two minutes between classes.”

Dr. Carol Sumner, senior associate dean of students, is working with CORA on their Mindful ASU initiative and said their goal is to find ways to support students that doesn’t require a connection to a particular religious group or organization.

“It’s a way to be able to say, ‘You don’t have to be affiliated for us to present other ways of being connected to the world around you,'” she said. “That’s what the mindfulness practice is really looking to do, is to get out of a particular modality of thinking that you have to practice mindfulness through a frame of religion or spirituality.”

Sumner describes Mindful ASU as being one part of a much larger effort by the university to look at student wellness holistically, including holistic wellness and mindfulness resources being provided to students by Sun Devil Fitness.

“While CORA might be doing things that have support and an anchor in faith based community work, it’s not necessarily looking at faith based practice, but mindfulness,” Sumner said. “The university has mindfulness work being supported and moved forward through our staff, so there are two separate facets of the work that are taking place under that umbrella.”

Sundin said that meditation is the one true interfaith practice.

“We can identify that we have differences, we don’t have to believe the same thing, but we can both participate fully in this common practice without compromising anything that separates us in terms of beliefs and ideas,” Sundin said. “We can honor the differences while celebrating our commonality fully.”

Dolgin hopes to use the interactive app once completed to connect students with all available mindfulness resources right where they are.

“They have yoga classes and meditation classes at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, but imagine if those were taken out into the beautiful nature we have at this campus or offered for free at different times of the day that anyone could sort of join in on after walking out of the library,” Dolgin said.

Sundin hopes these resources can help students feel less stressed, more at peace, and more connected to others around them.

“You don’t have to live as though everything depends upon your schedule, as though everything depends on the to-do list," he said. "There’s a way of being that connects you to a larger and deeper and bigger reality, where you’re connected better to other people, and to however you name what’s beyond."

The Mindful ASU website will likely be finished by the end of the spring 2017 semester, according to Sundin, but students can find updates and information about upcoming events on the Mindful ASU Facebook page until then. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @JasmineSpearing on Twitter.

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