On Wednesday, Sept. 28, the Center for Contemplative Studies (CCS) had its grand opening with remarks from West Chester Borough Mayor Carolyn Comitta, WCU Interim President Chris Fiorentino, Dean Linda Adams of the College of Health Sciences and important supporters of the CCS, Pat and Diane Croce. All day Wednesday, the center was open for a “tasting menu” of different sessions of yoga, meditation and other contemplative practices.
The CCS area has been open since 2011, but the gift from Pat and Diane Croce helped open the space for all.
“Our history from 2011 includes monthly seminar sessions, end-of-semester retreats and participation in campus-wide events, as well as our research and community outreach programs,” said Don McCown, the co-director of the CCS. “The gift from the Croces has given us the time and resources to do what we had long hoped to do — establish a permanent space of quiet and welcome for all students on campus and to run daily programs.”
The ceremony began with a few students and faculty ringing a gong placed next to the speaking podium. Before anyone else stepped to the podium, McCown, assistant professor of health and the director of the minor in contemplative studies, said a few introductory words.
He told the handful of attendees to focus on three things in that moment: gravity, breathing and their current feelings.
“We don’t usually think about our relationship with gravity,” said McCown. “Gravity is what’s holding us here.”
Comitta spoke on mindful meditation as her recent New Years resolution. She also had some words of encouragement for listeners.
“We’re never going to get rid of the stress,” Comitta admitted. “But we can learn to manage stress.”
Comitta then proceeded to introduce Pat and Diane Croce with “keys to the city” of West Chester Borough.
“This key represents a key to our future,” she remarked. “There is no question that taking good care of ourselves is a key to the future.”
Pat Croce, WCU alum and former Philadelphia 76ers owner, spoke on how mindfulness changed his life. He offered many of the attendees words of wisdom.
“A balanced life is still a challenging life,” Croce explained. “But here’s the secret you get when you walk in this door, your life is now void of suffering.”
Croce continued, “Worry, angst, fear — it all goes down because they’re only mental formations that you can make go away.”
He closed his remarks with an anonymous quote: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
Following the ribbon cutting, attendees were allowed to tour the space and grab free popcorn and drinks.
Interim President Fiorentino also had words of encouragement to promote student usage of the CCS.
“It’s clear that going to college is a stressful existence,” he said. “To the extent that you can be more relaxed and focused, you’re going to be more successful.”
He continued, “Even to just sit in my office, put my timer on in my phone for five minutes and just sit in my chair — I can feel my blood pressure going down.”
The Center for Contemplative Studies is open Monday through Thursday with two sessions of yoga and two sessions of mediation on each day. To see the complete schedule, visit wcupa.edu/HealthSciences/ ContemplativeStudies/schedule.
Sunny Morgan is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at SM848270@wcupa.edu. Her Twitter is? @SunnyMorgan97.