By Joseph D’Andrea
The stress that comes along with receiving a college education is something many students are all too familiar with. Fortunately for those attending Adelphi, the Mindfulness Center on the third floor of the University Center is focused on offering some relief. Newly opened this fall, the Center organizes meditation sessions that provide aid to students, focusing on taking a more introspective look at one’s own self, which any student can benefit from.
Professor Cristina Zaccarini is on the executive board of the Mindfulness Center Council, and has given mindfulness workshops to faculty, staff and students since 2019.
“A lot of people think mindfulness is just meditation,” she said, “but it’s a whole way of life, and it changes the way we look at ourselves, and how we approach other people and the world. It’s very complex. The Center is really exciting because we’re committed to creating a compassionate, inclusive campus, where everyone feels accepted.”
Although she is a part of Adelphi’s History Department, teaching seminars and other courses rooted in history, this has not held Zaccarini back from pursuing the opportunities and benefits that mindfulness can provide to college students.
“I incorporate mindfulness into the history classes I teach. I look at the feelings of individuals as they have expressed them, and how we have observed our thoughts, and how that impacts us,” she said.
One example is how the topic of slavery can act as a gateway to delving into the observation of human experience in history, which “encompasses a person’s feelings, struggle for autonomy, and their compassion… It’s about relating to them on a human level,” Zaccarini said.
She also recognized how teaching mindfulness is not a one-sided process on the part of the instructor. “I admire how open and amenable my students are to these ideas. It’s such a pleasure for me to teach this generation because of their insightfulness and appreciation for engagement.”
Working with the Bronx-based prison rehabilitation organization Network Support Services, through Adelphi’s The Mindful Resolution Project, Zaccarini sought to bring mindfulness to all aspects of the campus experience including outreach.
“My students interviewed incarcerated individuals who were also studying mindfulness, and mindfulness brought my students and these individuals together. Mindfulness is about compassion and empathy,” she said.
These additional efforts go to show that mindfulness should not only be considered within a classroom, encouraging students to recognize the wide-ranging impacts that come along with understanding what it means to be mindful.
Anna Zinko, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, serves as the director of the Mindfulness Center, and chairs the Mindfulness Center Advisory Group.
“Students today are facing many challenges and juggling multiple responsibilities,” Zinko said. “The Mindfulness Center provides a space for members of our community to unwind, unplug and center themselves amidst the business of their day-to-day lives. Mindfulness has many health benefits, and this center is an example of Adelphi's commitment to supporting the wellbeing of the community.”
Commenting on how mindfulness relates to the current college-aged generation, Zinko acknowledged how changing times call for the adoption of new methods of teaching the subject.
“I think mindful practice spans generations. However, I do think that different generations face different challenges in their search for mindfulness,” she said. “Gen Z has never lived in a world without technology and while we know we can use technology to support mindfulness, for example with apps like Headspace, I think it also presents a challenge for people to really disconnect from the constant stream of information and messages we receive.”
Zinko continued to identify the benefits of what Adelphi’s Mindfulness Center provides, saying, “I think Gen Z and Millenials are highly engaged, self aware and social-justice-oriented, which are amazing qualities. It also means that these folks need to practice self-care to sustain themselves.”
Even though the concept the center is based around is not a particularly new one, the Mindfulness Center is still working on growing since it is in its early stages of spreading the word of its presence. Attending their sessions to experience firsthand what is being offered is the best way to raise awareness.
Adelphi’s Mindfulness Center currently offers two groups that explore both guided methods of meditation, as well as more internal, self-reflective practices, one on Tuesdays and the other on Wednesdays, both on the third floor of the University Center. Scheduling for next semester’s meditations is presently being worked on. For more information on the center’s events schedule, visit www.adelphi.edu/mindfulness/.