Marquette Wire

Zen Den looking to help more students relax

Rachel Kubik

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Not many people know about the Counseling Center on campus, nor the resources it has to offer. A re-purposed conference room, the Zen Den is an under-the-radar place to go when the stress is just too much.

Created in spring 2013, the Zen Den houses resources and devices to help students partake in light box therapy, biofeedback training, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and guided imagery. There is a space for listening to calming music and a spot to sit on a comfy arm chair while smelling a lit scented candle. All of these tools benefit students’ mental health. Last year was the first time the Zen Den was open full-time.

“Students see mental health resources as a place you go to solve a particular problem or learn a new skill,” Lynn O’Brien, a staff member at the Counseling Center and manager of the Zen Den, said. “While this is true, what is equally important is giving yourself some time each day to take care of your mental health. The Zen Den is a space devoted to that goal.”

The Zen Den is located in the Counseling Center, Holthusen Hall, on the second floor. Students need to tell the receptionist that they are interested in the Den. Staff members will provide an introduction to the room and the steps needed to schedule time, up to 30 minutes with no interruptions. Laura Lubbers, a part-time counselor and Zen Den enthusiast, said that students may also call ahead to schedule an appointment. This way, a student won’t try to use the Zen Den when it’s already be occupied.

The Zen Den is open to any Marquette student. People who go there end up feeling better about their day, the situation they’re in or just life in general. “I always feel a sense of calm peace after being there,” O’Brien said. “I think there is something very unique about creating a space whose sole purpose is to support your well-being. It just makes for good energy!”

The Zen Den’s number of participants has remained consistent since it opened. “Utilization is varied,” O’Brien said.

The counseling center would love to see the number of participants grow. Society has placed a lot of encouragement on people to be physically fit and nutritionally healthy, yet society tends to stay away from mental and emotional health.

“I would like to see more students visiting the Den and taking more of a personal role in managing their mental health,” O’Brien said. “The vision for the Zen Den is that students can begin to take an active role in developing strong mental health.”

Besides the Den, the counseling center provides individual counseling for any difficulties students may have. The group therapy program is also a strong community of students helping other students to learn skills and develop self-assurance. The counseling center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students may phone ahead to make an appointment or to just drop by if in a crisis.

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