Peace and quiet in The Mindfulnest
Do you find it difficult to take time for yourself? Do you need a mindful pause, or a responsible way to take a break from studying? Would you like a stress-free space to work on skills that will benefit your studies and private life? Starting 3 May, UM’s Wellbeing Movement will offer you the opportunity to use The Mindfulnest for a month. In this lovingly created, stimulus-free space, you are the main focus.
For the entire month of May, you can nestle down and relax in your own way in a cabin that is specifically designed for this purpose—The Mindfulnest. Here, you can catch your breath, listen to the meditation and mindfulness exercises offered, sit in silence or use your own meditation app. The Mindfulnest is located at the Inner City Library. You can drop by to see if The Mindfulnest is free or reserve a spot.
Relaxing at your place of study
Liesbeth Mouha, Student Wellbeing project leader and coordinator of the Wellbeing Movement (WBM) at UM, was immediately enthusiastic about The Mindfulnest: “Now that almost everything takes place online, we are convinced that it is important to give students a physical, on-campus opportunity to take some space and relax at their place of study. Taking a break, doing a short meditation or just relaxing is really important for being able to get through the day in a healthy way. That is what we want to promote at UM, hence this pilot with The Mindfulnest. The cabin is available for students and staff upon reservation. If the evaluation shows that the pilot project has been well received, The Mindfulnest will hopefully be given a permanent place in the University Library.”
Pim van den Bos Master’s student in Private Law at the UvA and mastermind behind 'The Mindfulnest'.
The mastermind behind The Mindfulnest is Pim van den Bos, Master’s student in Private Law at the University of Amsterdam: “I had a busy life, studied hard, had a job as a student assistant, worked at a law firm and lived with my girlfriend. I noticed that I had to really make an effort to actually get some rest and take some space for myself. I study at the university library a lot because that’s where I can concentrate best and grasp complicated material. If you sit there all day, along with many other students, it’s nice if you can take a moment now and then to recharge your batteries. For me personally, meditation works best. What I often do halfway through a long study day, for example after a few hours of studying, is to meditate briefly in order to recharge for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, there is not a space to do that at the university library.”
There is a growing interest among students in meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm. Universities are joining this trend by organising their own workshops to help make students strong and resilient. Students who want to develop these skills further nowadays are often dependent on their own busy student house. Pim considered all of this information and thought that university libraries should also offer space for learning non-academic skills that can be useful in both work life and private life. “The Mindfulnest is an ideal and innovative way to contribute to this”, says Pim enthusiastically.
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Taking a break, doing a short meditation or just relaxing is really important for being able to get through the day in a healthy way
Pilot at UM
Van den Bos deliberately chose UM for his pilot with The Mindfulnest: “Student wellbeing is an important theme at many research universities and universities of applied sciences. But UM is a real innovator in this area because the university pays constant attention to it. I see this in the Wellbeing Movement, participation in Caring Universities, and the fact that UM was the first university in the Netherlands to introduce a Health Week. UM has a clear role and an open mind when it comes to student wellbeing. Moreover, UM has the highest population of international students, which has shown to be a vulnerable group when it comes to student wellbeing. I therefore contacted Liesbeth Mouha, the coordinator of the Wellbeing Movement at UM, and she was immediately enthusiastic about my plan. According to Liesbeth, The Mindfulnest fits with UM's vision of offering tools for leading a healthy and happy student life.”
Nest at the University Library
And now, for the entire month of May, there will be a nest at the University Library on the Grote Looiersstraat. In this pilot, the extent to which The Mindfulnest can be integrated into the daily life of a student or staff member will be looked at. Inside The Mindfulnest there is an iPad you can use to select guided meditations, among other things. But it’s not just about meditating, Pim emphasises, “I strongly believe that experiencing a completely stimulus-free space is already a big step. It doesn’t matter what people do there—meditate, pray or just sit in silence. It’s a place where you can recharge, refocus and reduce stress. I hope that The Mindfulnest will soon play a nice role in the lives of students and staff at many more institutions of higher education.”
Safe private space
Alice Maris, hostess at UM’s Inner City Library, is also pleased with this opportunity for students, “I notice that students like to have a one-person study cell because they can concentrate better there. But also, people walk past there—other students, staff—it’s almost never truly quiet. I tentatively asked our student workers about Pim’s idea and they were absolutely open to it. Pim calls The Mindfulnest a safe private space, and that’s exactly what our students need from time to time in order to stay focused. The sessions will last a maximum of twenty minutes and Pim will initially introduce The Mindfulnest to the students and staff. In the nest, you can use meditation programmes. There is soft light and, if you want, soft background sounds like those of a forest, the sea or birds. Alice Maris: “Of course, we here at UM are very proud that we are able to do the pilot.”
Come by and try it out yourself! You can find The Mindfulnest in the University Library at the Grote Looiersstraat 17 (inner city). Of course, you can also make a reservation directly. Would you like more information? Then feel free to drop by for a cup of tea at the University Library.
Text: Margot Krijnen