Hillel House Hosts Meditation Series

Hillel House

The Hillel House, the hub of Susquehanna Jewish life, welcomes community members of all religions and spiritual paths by offering programming such as the Insight Meditation Series.

Assistant Professor of English Betsy Verhoeven and Colleen Bogner, meditation facilitator and licensed clinical social worker, led separate meditation groups in 2009—Verhoeven’s on campus and Bogner’s off. In fall 2010, the pair joined forces at the Hillel House, starting with a four-week introductory series on Insight Meditation.

The group, which continues to meet weekly, consists of students, staff and community members who benefit from their varied experiences. Each meeting features a 20-minute guided meditation, listening to a podcast by Tara Brach, founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, and group discussion.

“We can go for weeks without having a moment where we’re centered,” says Rabbi Kate Palley. She explains that Insight Meditation groups offer participants the valuable opportunity to stop, get in touch with one’s inner voice and spend time with one’s self. Everyone is encouraged through continued practice to become more centered in their daily lives.

Meditation is particularly helpful for 18- to 22-year-olds, as most are in what Palley calls “the process of figuring out who they are as an adult and citizen of the world.” Bogner suggests that college life can be stressful and that meditation can improve stress tolerance and cultivate greater acceptance of difficult situations.

Though this particular form of meditation is founded upon Buddhist principles, “it is not a religion,” she explains. “It is more a philosophy of scientific investigation of yourself. Insight Meditation can enrich any life—religious or nonreligious.”

“It’s not really a religious practice,” Palley agrees, “though it can be. Quiet time and meditation can only improve quality of life and your relationship with the divine.”

The Hillel House is welcoming not only in its programming but in its design.

The upstairs meditation room, lacking in specific religious iconography so all can pray comfortably there, is another way the Hillel House embraces people of all spiritual backgrounds and beliefs.

In the future, Palley envisions Hillel House adding more evening programming and becoming a “more integrated community.” The Insight Meditation Series and a women’s spirituality group, Rosh Chodesh, were suggested to her by others. She continues to be open to new ideas and looks forward to further collaboration with the SU and Selinsgrove communities.

Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Charlotte Lotz ‘12, Megan McDermott ‘14, Betsy K. Robertson and Karen M. Jones, assistant director of media relations.

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