By: Brigitte Berry
Algonquin got a taste of Buddhist customs on Jan. 17 when a Sri Lankan monk held an hour-long meditation session at 12 p.m. at the Campus Ministry.
This semester Algonquin students have the opportunity to separate themselves from their busy thoughts by practicing breathing in and out exercises taught by a Buddhist student currently at Algonquin.
Each week on Thursday, a Buddhist monk will be leading a group session in Room E211. Not only to practice meditation but also inform and lend advice on finding inner peace and living in the moment.
The instructor leading the meditations is named Jinanda Nugegalayaye, but prefers Bhante J. He is a student at Algonquin taking English courses and a resident monk at the Buddhist Temple of Ottawa.
Raised in Sri Lanka, Bhante J. was born Buddhist and became a monk when he was 12. He moved to Canada in 2008 and has been with the Buddhist Temple of Ottawa for five years.
He explained that as a monk it is his duty to not only practice Buddhist methods but teach it as well. When he was approached at his temple to teach at the college, he was more than willing.
The first session was held on Jan. 17 where about a dozen participants, including both students and faculty, sat in silence listening to Bhante J.’s guidance.
The instructor encouraged participants to bring their own yoga mats but otherwise rugs were also provided. It was also recommended to bring a cushion to sit on in order to keep the back as straight as possible while sitting.
“I thought it’d be cool to try something to help get my mind off school for a bit,” said Lianna Forman, 19, an architectural student.
The emphasis is that anyone is welcome, regardless of religion or level of expertise. “This is the Spirituality Centre and we are trying to make connections to other religions,” said Yuriy Derkach, a Chaplain at the Algonquin College Campus Ministry.
Derkach understood the college is very religiously diverse and desired to accommodate all students. He explained that he listens to any suggestions students give for the religious centre and tries to meet their needs.
People outside the college were welcomed as well. Having ties through his church with Yuriy Derkach, Zachary Ingles jumped at the opportunity to participate in the meditation.
“I found it really empowering, even for me as a Christian. I really like the quiet and stillness and being able to reflect and actually get yourself to a place where you can be present in the moment,” said Ingles, 22, an intern from St. Alban’s Anglican Church.