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The MindSpa

A New Addition to UMBC’s Counseling Center

Brittany Meyer

Contributing Writer

UMBC’s Counseling Center has added another feature — the Mindspa. There are many activities and games offered there, making the Mindspa a good stress reliever for students.

Have you been feeling stressed lately? Need a place to ease your mind and get away from the hassles of college? UMBC’s Counseling Center has created a new addition to its facilities called the Mindspa that would answer that call.

With its convenient hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and no time limits on visits, students can fit some relaxation and tranquility in their schedule.

All UMBC students, both graduate and undergraduate, are eligible to visit.

Students are allowed to roam the Mindspa alone. If they wish to be oriented to any of the equipment, they can make an appointment at the front desk.

When walking into the Mindspa, the first noticeable aspect is how quiet the room is. With its white walls, dim lighting and ceiling fixtures that resemble fluffy white clouds, the idea of being on campus fades away.

There are many different activities offered at this unique oasis. For meditation, there are pillows and cushions scattered around the carpeted floor, surrounded by tall lanterns and fake candles providing a bit of ambiance.

The lanterns themselves are a form of light therapy. Dr. Alexis Melville is one of many of the psychologists at the counseling center and is the main coordinator of the Mindspa. Melville says “Research has shown that [light therapy] is an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] or ‘the winter blues.’”

Natural sunlight tends to increase and decrease throughout the year, so student’s moods can pull more in the negative direction in the winter. Melville says “The lamp can increase energy and foster a positive mood, even on the darkest of days!”

A massage chair sits in the corner next to the meditation center. On a table, next to the massage chair there is a small table holding a pot of tea, cups and a textile activity resembling Play Dough called Sand Creations.

They also offer EmWave, which is a portable biofeedback machine. It is designed to monitor heart rate and breathing so users can achieve a level of relaxation or coherence.

The Mindspa also has a series of computer-based games that monitor different aspects of the body. Journey to the Wild Divine, one of the biofeedback style games, includes numerous tasks and adventures that help regulate emotion levels and breathing. The second game, Healing Rhythms and Zen Journey, provides personal feedback from a variety of well known experts to teach users breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques.

Melville says, “Research has shown that through making these subtle changes [using biofeedback], one can show significant positive impact on their overall well-being.”

Overall, the Mindspa is designed to provide a relaxed environment to learn ways to distress as well as improve concentration and memory. Dr. Melville says “research has linked mindfulness, meditation and relaxation with a reduction in stress, better nights sleep, increase self-awareness, improved test scores and memory!” Fortunately, the Mindspa is a permanent feature, so all students should use it to maintain their success as students.