Introducing Stetson Law’s New Meditation & Wellness Spaces

Features from a meditation room, including a salt lamp, yoga mats, cushions, and a mandala on the wall.
Students will find adjustable lighting, aromatherapy, yoga mats, and other features to help them destress in Stetson Law’s meditation rooms.

Reflecting Stetson Law’s commitment to mental health and wellness, faculty, staff, and students celebrated the opening of two thoughtfully appointed student meditation rooms on campus.

Members of the Office of Student Affairs, the Office of the Dean, the Student Bar Association Health & Wellness Committee, and other groups gathered April 28 to mark the occasion, which is the culmination of a collaboration among students, staff, and administration officials. The rooms, located in the Dolly and Homer Hand Law Library and the Office of Student Affairs, aim to help students balance the challenges they face with mindfulness practices, de-stress, and build resilience, be it through yoga, talking through issues, journaling, prayer, or meditation.

“Students need a place to just quietly relax – or maybe sometimes quietly scream,” said Blake Radford, who is president of Stetson Law’s Calvin Kuenzel Student Bar Association. “It makes campus a safer place to be – not just a place where you’re studying and you’re panicking… It’s a place you can relax.”

Balancing the rigors of law student life

Daily life for law students can feel nonstop as they strive not only to succeed, but to stand out.

Law school is often so focused on competition and other intensive activities, said Associate Dean for Assessment and Professional Engagement Anne Mullins, that wellness can often be an afterthought.

“We don’t always celebrate just being. And as lawyers, that’s really important for us,” Mullins said. “We’re kind of set to go and do – and the be part gets kind of underattended.”

Multifaceted meditation rooms

The two mediation rooms are located in strategic spots on campus.

The library meditation room is located in room 233 on the south side of the building’s second floor and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Items for the room were made possible by the SBA, as well as the library’s Waters Wellness Fund, a donation-based fund dedicated to wellness programming for students.

The other meditation room is currently located in the Office of Student Affairs. This space will operate from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Items for the room, including an accessible yoga mat were made possible by the SBA, along with a donation from the Office of Student Affairs.

A student shows wellness accessories to others in a campus meditation room.
Dominique Alford-Raymond, right, shows students, faculty, and staff some features of a meditation room at Stetson Law.

The rooms’ ADA-friendly lighting can be adjusted by touch and changed to different colors. They also feature comfortable seating, salt lamps, a notebook for students to write down their thoughts or share inspirational messages, aromatherapy, an ambient sound machine with 50 different relaxing noise options, and more.

Dominique Alford-Raymond, chair of the SBA’s Student Health and Wellness committee, helped lead the initiative. She said the rooms were appointed to help students achieve comfort amid their most stressful moments.

“Mental health and wellness is very complex,” she said. “Just like everything else in law school, the solution to mental health is, “It Depends”. So while some may see an empty set of rooms with a couple of chairs and a salt lamp; it is actually solving a complex set of issues in a few ways.”

These include dimmable lights, aromatherapy, a calming atmosphere, ADA-compliant accessibility measures, and materials like cushioned yoga and prayer mats that vary in size, length, and texture. Such items, she said, can help deescalate anxiety or panic attacks.

“If you don’t feel comfortable, you’re not going to calm down. If you’re not at peace, your mind won’t stop racing,” Alford-Raymond, a 2L enrolled in Stetson Law’s part-time J.D. program, said.

A space for staff

Stetson Law leadership is also creating a space for staff members to relax during the workweek. The Human Resources department has outfitted a room in the Tower building with similar wellness accoutrements.

It will be located on the second-floor dorm hall (D203) and will feature a comfortable sitting area, yoga mats, coloring books, space for a new parent to breastfeed/care for a child, softer lighting, a television for streaming music or meditation videos, and more.

“It was important for us to set aside a space within our community with our employees’ well-being in mind, promoting both physical and mental wellness,” said Stetson Law Director of Human Resources Pamela Skoularakos. “We hope the room will help employees in need of a boost of energy or just a quiet space to get away from their workload for a few minutes of peace.”

She said staff should keep an eye out for a launch in the near future.

Reflecting a cultural shift

Having space where students (and staff) can relax and unwind reflects the College of Law’s commitment to inclusive excellence, said Carmen Johnson, Stetson University’s Executive Officer of Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion. It also invites students to process their experience at Stetson Law (and in life, in general) in a manner unique to them.

“This is really thinking about how we create spaces to be our authentic selves in multiple mediums. Whether it’s through advocacy; whether it’s through faith, prayer, meditation, and mindfulness,” Johnson said. “Everyone works collaboratively to make these kinds of spaces happen.”

These spaces also reflect an evolution in the way many individuals choose to approach professional life.

“These days, there is a lot more talk about self-care, mindfulness, and practices that offset the stresses of daily life,” said Interim Dean Theresa Pulley Radwan. “As one of the most challenging – and rewarding – pursuits one can take on, law school should be no different.”

As future lawyers whose work can be transformative for the lives of others, focusing on wellness is paramount.

“It is my hope that the self-care practices our students adopt here at Stetson Law will stay with them as they embark on their careers,” Pulley Radwan said. “You can’t take care of your clients if you don’t take care of yourself first.”