What the Wellness?
By Samantha Williams, student, SUNY Empire State College; assistant editor, The Student Connection
May 28, 2015
The 2015 Student Wellness Retreat proclaimed to educate, experience and explore. Boy, did it deliver! Unlike some traditional college events (usually involving the majority partaking in alcohol for most of the event), the Retreat felt much like a continuation of education with a ton of fun slathered on top. The first Concurrent Sessions held Friday, April 17, offered interesting options such as “Empower Yourself” or “Understanding Your Personality and How to Work with Others: A Myers Briggs Type Indicator,” but I opted to try out “Benefits of Essential Oils.”
Two women ran the session, Patricia Matthews and Kaitlyn Mann. Patricia’s story tugged at the relatable heartstrings—wanting to find a way to manage Type 1 Diabetes and injuries from a serious car accident without relying on pharmaceuticals. Her answer? Turn to essential oils, which Mann pointed out were made from the “life force” of the plant. Hundreds of pounds of plants make it into a single bottle of essential oils in many cases. Oils from plants offer antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Matthews and Mann introduced the session to essential orange, peppermint, a balance blend and a metabolic blend.
The orange settled the session attendees right down. How could it not? The smell permeated the nose and calmed the soul. In contrast, the peppermint was bright (they called it a hot oil) and, when applied to the neck, caused a tingling sensation that, while relaxing, was noticeable. Regardless, the oils caused me to consider the benefits of something so seemingly simple. Matthews and Mann educated us in a realm perhaps otherwise overlooked.
As for experience, one surprised me during Concurrent Sessions 3, when I attended “Reiki for Recovery.” My science mind pondered how something like Reiki could work. Donna Gaines, Ph.D., explained the history well (and she is funny, I might add). But, it was the demonstration that caught the room by surprise. When Gaines brought up The Student Connection’s Sandra Barkevich, the room became silent. We watched in anticipation, and although we didn’t see anything, we could feel something.
After the brief demonstration, we were able to experience Reiki on our own. Incredibly, feeling the presence of a Reiki practitioner to your side or behind you caused a warming sensation, even with eyes closed. If anything, experiencing something that may not easily be explained (especially after one try!), opened minds to the healing possibilities.
Finally, to explore, I found myself in “Living Passionately with Your Own Unique Purpose.” Somehow, it was hard, at first, to concentrate, but when Maria Blon asked us to close our eyes and think about our purpose, what we wanted to accomplish in life, my energy came alive. The stories told across the room about what attendees saw could fill an article of their own. The act of focusing and truly thinking about passion and purpose enlivened and encouraged me to grasp for the stars.
What happened at the 2015 Student Wellness Retreat? Far too much for a simple, 500 word article, but enough to make me proud to be a SUNY Empire State College student.