by Jane Terry
The students in REL 358 Yoga and Meditation, taught by Dr. Stephen Berkwitz, enjoyed an enlightening evening of presentations and discussions around the course’s final assignment, a creative project.
As an opportunity to engage in experiential learning, analyzing and summarizing an aspect of yoga and/or meditation learned during the course, students challenged themselves to push beyond their comfort zones and the usual academic activities (listening to lectures, reading, taking exams, writing papers…), to learn or practice a creative endeavor, such as drawing/painting, practicing yoga, writing poetry, building a sand mandala, developing a virtual reality mandala, or other form of expression.
REL 358 looks at the history, philosophy, and practices of various yoga and meditation traditions from India and China, with emphasis given to Hindu, Buddhist, and Daoist systems, as well as their uses in popular culture and health care in modern American society.
Beyond studying the traditions, students were offered opportunities to participate in some practices, such as tai chi and hatha yoga, with guest instructors. The course serves as a useful means to inquire into the connections between Asian religions and Western culture.