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Mindfulness Room opens in West Wing

The Mindfulness Room includes comfortable chairs for stressed students.  (credit: Jonathan Leung/Photo Editor) The Mindfulness Room includes comfortable chairs for stressed students. (credit: Jonathan Leung/Photo Editor) The Mindfulness Room is full of amenities to help students relax, including yoga mats and greenery.  (credit: Jonathan Leung/Photo Editor) The Mindfulness Room is full of amenities to help students relax, including yoga mats and greenery. (credit: Jonathan Leung/Photo Editor)

Students carrying various green, leafy plants were seen crossing campus following the grand opening of the Mindfulness Room in West Wing last Thursday.

The Mindfulness Room features a wall waterfall, bean bags, yoga mats, an inspiration whiteboard, and a plant wall. The project was spearheaded by sophomore civil and environmental engineering major Angela Ng through the organization Project Smile.

Project Smile is devoted to increasing smiles around campus and mitigating Carnegie Mellon’s stress culture. “Project Smile is a happiness club on campus that aims to alleviate the stress culture and make people smile using the power of random acts of kindness and other events,” Ng said.

The split design of the room is meant to accommodate both those who want to relax and those who want to meditate.

The room is split by a “plant wall,” a wooden structure with plants interspersed throughout.

Ng hoped to create the room herself rather than buy products. Most of the items in the room were handmade, including the wooden structures, paintings, small fence, and decorative butterflies.

Additionally, the books featured in the Mindfulness Room are some of the campus faculty and student body’s favorites, and the testimonial letters on display are written by students who speak about how they overcame Carnegie Mellon’s stress culture.

The Mindfulness Room is designed around an Earth and nature theme to resemble Flagstaff Hill during the summertime. During the winter, “students just want to stay inside and work all day,” resulting in maximum stress, according to Ng.

Ng said that she designed the Mindfulness Room to resemble the “sunshine, spring, and outside” with its yellow painted walls and hanging plants.

The idea for a Mindfulness Room and Project Smile began when Ng was unable to cope with the stress presented to her during her first semester at Carnegie Mellon, as she felt as though “she was studying 15 hours a day and not doing well in school.”

“I never [wanted] to see anyone as panicked or frightened as I was,” Ng said.

Project Smile grew from midnight runs during which members of the club would distribute free candy and cookies, as well as create motivational posters. Ng views Project Smile not as the ultimate goal, but rather as a stepping stone in the long journey of eradicating the stress culture and making a simple smile more commonplace.

Last spring, Ng wrote a proposal of the grant to Gina Casalegno, dean of student affairs, to use the Enhancing Campus Culture Fund — a fund offered to a project that would improve the stress culture at Carnegie Mellon — to create the Mindfulness Room.

“Getting the grant for this project represents the school’s love and care for its students that they recognized all of the stress culture at this school and they are honestly trying to fix it,” Ng said.
Ng wanted the Mindfulness Room to be a place where students could be inspired and “where you can just be you and not feel the stress of the world.”

Ng said that it is necessary for everyone to have that one little spot of calm, especially in an environment where stress permeates the atmosphere. “It is necessary to take a step back and relax,” she said.
Students have responded positively to the opening of the Mindfulness Room.

Arley Schenker, sophomore cognitive science major, said, “This is a great idea, it really can make a difference.”

Eric Parigoris, sophomore mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering double major, agreed. “[You] finally [have] some place to be in peace with yourself.”