Damage displaces meditating students

Last October, in the midst of teaching a two-day Reiki healing course in the meditation room, Deborah Ringdahl and her students were told to pack up their massage tables and vacate the room.

Since then, the meditation room, located on the third floor of the Mayo Building, has been idle.

According to James Litsheim, University senior architect, the University closed the room due to extensive structural damage on the building.

The Center for Spirituality and Healing uses the room for classes and programs such as meditation and yoga throughout the year.

Litsheim said an overlying coat of concrete broke off the outside wall.

“There is some concern about the structural integrity of the building,” he said. “It’s not condemned, (but) just to err on the safe side, they stopped using it.”

Litsheim said the University is in the process of examining the cost of either fixing or demolishing the room.

“Currently, the sense is that the cost to fix it is less than the cost to (demolish) it,” he said.

Litsheim said he estimates it will cost more than $500,000 to fix the room.

There is potential for demolition, he said, because other factors need to be considered.

These factors include whether there is good use for the room and if the University is willing to invest in maintaining the room long-term.

Project manager Chuck Koncker said he is preparing a report detailing the estimated cost of repairs. He expects to turn the report in to Vice President Kathleen O’Brien by early February.

Ringdahl, a teaching specialist at the School of Nursing, said she prefers using the meditation room.

“It’s a very unique kind of space,” she said.

In the daytime, the sun shines through the stained-glass windows of the octagon-shaped room, filling the room with colors.

Ringdahl said she used to meditate in the room when she first started working at the University in 1978, and started teaching in the room in 2003.

Barbara Nordstrom-Loeb, a lecturer in the department of theatre arts and dance, teaches body and movement-based therapies in the room. She said usually between six and 10 people attend her class.

“The meditation room is wonderful, so it is hard to compare any other space we might use,” she said.

Seth Alt, an art senior, attended Nordstrom-Loeb’s class in the meditation room.

“I like the stained glass,” he said of the room. “It allows for some nice different colors to come in.”

He said the room made him feel like he was in a different place.

“It doesn’t feel like you are in a hospital building,” he said.

When the class was told they could no longer use the meditation room, Alt said they had to move from room to room.

Erik Storlie, a lecturer for the Center of Spirituality and Healing, said the meditation classes that he teaches have been transferred as well.

“Its loss is a great inconvenience,” he said, because his class needs a place to keep its yoga mats and other supplies.

– Freelance Editor Yelena Kibasova welcomes comments at [email protected].