For many of us, they are two different modes: relaxed quietude and productivity. When assignments are due or we have to study, few of us think first about sitting still and taking a deep breath — quite the opposite, usually! Time in those moments is so precious, it seems, we feel we just have to go, go, go. Sounds familiar, right? But maybe it’s time to try a different tack. Sheila Stewart, who leads the Writing Centre’s drop-in Writing Room at New College, certainly thinks so. That’s why she and some colleagues in the Office of Residence and Student Life (ORSL) initiated a pilot program that begins next week, on Thursday, September 21, and will then take place every Thursday between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in Room 2008 of Wilson Hall: one hour of mindfulness meditation, followed by some focused writing practice, both guided by two experts in their fields.

Young Asian woman sitting at desk writing.

Photo by Connie Tsang

Why, you ask? Because a relaxed brain is actually more creative, more focused and better able to absorb information. Writing and assignments cause many students (and non-students!) quite a bit of anxiety, even in classes and on topics they enjoy. It’s quite normal. So many of you already get help with those pesky words in places like the New College Writing Centre, from peer tutors or your profs. While that certainly takes away some of the stress, Stewart and her colleagues wanted to create an even more empowering opportunity. Meditation and learning to calm the rapid onslaught of thoughts that usually happens when we are nervous seemed like the perfect solution, especially since the Mindful Moments program is already running on U of T’s St. George campus.

The Thursday hour of meditation at NEW will be part of Mindful Moments, with the added benefit of the Writing Room following immediately after, so that assignments and essays can be approached with greater calm and focus. Stewart will continue to lead the Writing Room, while Tina Brooks will guide the meditation practice. Brooks comes with a lot of experience: After doing mindfulness meditation training at U of T, she completed a two-year contemplative psychotherapy program at the Institute for Traditional Medicine and has led meditation courses both on and off campus for a wide range of people.

Now, to be clear: You don’t have to do both. You could drop in to just the meditation at NEW or just the Writing Room. You also don’t have to come every week. It’s up to you. But you could give the combo a try. It might just be the one that works for you.


One room, two practices, lots of benefit. Check it out, starting September 21, 2017.


When: Thursdays, 2-6 p.m.

Where: Wilson Hall, Room 2008

What: Meditation (2-3 p.m.) + Writing Room (3-6 p.m.)

Who: NEWtonians looking to put some spark into their writing and their day

Cosmos (flowers)

Photo by Petra Dreiser