Finding a Spiritual Home
We are currently in the period known as the High Holidays–the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which is the holiest time in the Jewish calendar. It is a time for self-reflection–an opportunity to think back on the previous year, assess areas for growth, and make amends where necessary. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, I sat with a fellow Jewish friend on a meditation bench overlooking Mink Brook. We wrote letters to our future selves, expressing our current feelings and setting intentions for our final year at Dartmouth. This moment was just one small example of the value I've found in having a spiritual outlet.
Spirituality was a big part of my life growing up. My dad was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school his whole life, and said the Guardian Angel Prayer with my sister and I every night. My mom, on the other hand, was raised in a reform Jewish family. When my parents moved to Western Massachusetts, there was no reform synagogue in the area, so my mom founded one and my grandpa was the first rabbi there. I grew up going to Hebrew school and Sunday school, had a Bat Mitzvah, and the Jewish community has been a pretty integral aspect to my identity. When I came to Dartmouth, I had no idea how I would translate that to life in college.
The above photo was from the first event I ever attended at the Roth Center for Jewish Life–home of the Dartmouth College Hillel. It was a Rosh Hashanah service with an accompanying home cooked dinner. I still remember that night vividly; I had just arrived at Dartmouth a few days earlier and was still nervous about being able to find a space for spirituality here. All of that nervousness melted away as community members came together and filled the room with the same melodies I grew up hearing in my own synagogue. We shared stories over a delicious meal, explored the downstairs area with couches and a seemingly endless supply of DVDs, and I left the night feeling truly welcomed into the Jewish community.
Another aspect of my spiritual identity is meditation practice. I've participated in week-long retreats at a meditation center (co-founded by Dartmouth alumnus, Jack Kornfield!) every summer and have enjoyed exploring the power of mindfulness. Learning how to apply Buddhist principles to my daily life has been hugely helpful for coping with academic stress and approaching Dartmouth with a greater sense of intentionality. The Dartmouth Zen Practice Group and the Student Wellness Center are both excellent resources on campus to help build mindfulness skills and find supportive community.
There are numerous other spiritual organizations and spaces on campus, not to mention a vast network of hiking trails surrounding campus if you feel more spiritually connected to nature. If you're curious, I'd encourage you to check out The William Jewett Tucker Center to explore the diverse array of offerings. Whatever level of experience or comfort you have with spirituality, I can assure you that there is a home for you here.