Written by Spencer Goodheart ’18
For the first since attending Hiram, I found myself in need of a map. My destination was the Hiram Chapel, which I had already embarrassingly mistaken for the Hiram church, reminding myself how little I explore the campus besides my daily routine for class. Walking back up the craggy sidewalk outside of Bates, I found the birds eye view map, scanning down the legend for the elusive building. The Hiram Chapel was easy to miss. Belonging to the cult of buildings on Bancroft and Brown street, my creative writing and philosophy courses never sent me in that direction. Checking my phone, I realized that I was already six minutes late.
My entrance to the small building was met with turned heads—six to be exact. The small group of students sat cross-legged on pillows laid on the carpeted floor. Shucking my shoes, I prepared myself for “Zen hour.”
The leader, Devon, greeted me with a smile. Devon and I have shared a few overlapping courses, and the air of familiarity was nice. He and everybody else introduced themselves, but there were only two I didn’t know. With introductions out of the way, Devon asked what kind of music we wanted to meditate to. We had the choice of classical symphonies, smooth jazz, and Tibetan wind chimes. Since none of us were seasoned veterans, we shamelessly agreed on the safest option, going with the wind chimes. The sound of twinkling metal filled the room. Devon turned the light down and lit a candle, telling us to take whatever pose felt comfortable. I chose the corpse pose, which had me on my back, arms and legs stretched over the soft carpet.
Devon told us to focus on our breathing, which was easier said than done. My mind was currently obsessing over sources for my annotated bibliography—authors that were supposed to help me achieve literary greatness through their stories. Focusing on my breathing, I tried to pushing those things out of my head, but found them stubborn. Not only that, but it began to feel as if I were underwater, as if my body had become a gunked up river bottom and my thoughts floated over me. But as time went on, I found those stubborn thoughts start to disappear. Well, disappear might not have been the right word. It was more like they had been filed away for the time being. And with the middle of week nine approaching, I took what I could get.
There was something else about the experience that was pleasant as well. Sure, I could find one of the seemingly endless nooks or crannies that pepper Hiram to be by myself and meditate, but to have people there with me made it easier to relax—a communal sense of taking a break.
I currently live in a single in Bowler. I chose to do so in order to focus on my work, which requires more attention during senior year. While it is nice to have my own room, the solitary nature takes its toll. With most of my friends living off campus, it gives me plenty of time to sit and stew in my own anxieties, especially with nobody there to tell me I’m being ridiculous. People have an amazing eye when it comes to catching someone else’s irrationalities, so it was nice to spend an hour of my time surrounded by people that I knew. Even though there were barely any words said throughout the session, there was an aura of silent encouragement to take a load off.
Zen hour is new to Hiram, only starting last week at the time of writing this. Every Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m., students can enjoy a moment of peace and quiet with their peers in a session of meditation and contemplation.