This semester the Department of Religious Studies was honored to have one of its faculty, Dr. Mark McLaughlin, featured on the Wellness Center's podcast "Ways to Flourish". Dr. McLaughlin discussed his research on sacred space in the Vedic traditions and his experience in yogic pratice, as well as the genesis of his course Meditation and Wellness. Essentially the idea for the course grew from a dialogue between neuroscience scholars and religious studies scholars about the practice of meditation and its scientific and religious connotations. He addressed the ways in which he built the course around this dialogue, making sure to keep various perpectives on mediation in mind and in the materials and concepts with which the students would interact.
The episode also featured Kevin Aviles, Max Beers, and Anne Ryan Gareis, three wellness ambassadors who also studied in the class in question. These students discussed how their persepctives on meditation were broadened by taking the class, whether that meant opening their minds to different varieties of meditative practice or beginning to understand the neuroscientific elements of meditation for the first time, or coming to the understanding that meditation can be embarked upon in many different ways and with many different intentions. The discussion also touched upon the idea of meditation as a cessation of activity of the mind: a departure from the fullness of the world. The three students weighed in on how this idea has effected their senses of self and their daily lives, and the ways in which the course has changed or evolved their meditative practice.