by Jessica Lavopa
Leaning up against a white wall, about three feet in height stands a black and white print of the Buddhist symbol Om Shanti Om. The symbol is used as a mantra, meeting and parting salutation during yoga and meditation. A wall of four windows let sunlight pool into the dark room on the ground floor of Fort Awesome, shining light on the symbol and its mindfulness teachings.
As yoga mats are rolled out on the floor, students began to stretch and tilt their heads back awaiting the instructor. In the small class of five students, no one turned around or paid any attention to the woman who walked in. She wears blue jeans and brown, ankle high hiking boots with fur lining, not exactly yoga attire.
The woman walked to the front of the room, grabbing a round blue pillow on her way to sit on the floor. In a Swedish accent, she said, “Being mindful is not being perfect, it is being human.”
Raditia Lasry, a Purchase alumni who graduated in the Fall of 2018, is working at the Wellness Center this semester as a Mindfulness instructor. Mindfulness originates from Buddhism and is the practice of being aware of one’s feelings and surroundings. But according to Lasry, there is no wrong definition.
The purpose of Lasry’s class is to get students comfortable with being at school and adjusting to a busy schedule. For many, classes can cause stress and anxiety, but Lasry offers ways to help students combat those emotions: embrace them.
“If you are embracing yourself then you can make yourself better,” Lasry said. “All I want to teach you is that no matter where you are, be aware of your feelings.”
The class discusses ways to better themselves, whether it be dealing with anxiety or practicing self-care. During this part of class everyone can share what’s been going on throughout their week. Alexa Aurelia, a junior liberal studies major and intern at the Wellness Center, attends the class every week. Aurelia says she practices mindfulness every day to combat her anxiety.
“I practice mindfulness all the time, it helps me stay present and deal with trauma,” said Aurelia as she places a black stone on the floor in front of her. “I’m also a crystal and Reiki healer, so I’m hoping this class will help my craft.”
For Kenah Taylor, a junior biology major, mindfulness comes naturally to her. Taylor has been practicing yoga and mindfulness all her life with her mother who is a Kundalini yoga instructor.
“Yoga and meditation is so much different than working out. It encompasses the whole body including the mind and it keeps me peaceful,” said Taylor. “Everyone should try it. There’s so much negativity in our bodies that need to be released.”
Lasry’s main goal is to help students take the first step in self-care by offering a peaceful and open place.
“We want to really figure out three things,” said Lasry. “Who am I? What do I want? Where do I want to be?”