Religion and Spirituality on Campus

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Religion means something different to every single person who hears the word. You may think of religion as something that people do not want to talk or hear about because it has led to so much division. However, religion does not need to be a topic that you cower at in fear. Religion and spirituality has the power to rile up the mind, but it also has the power to ease the mind for many people.

College is a time where religion can be a part of your life or not, but college is also a time filled with ways to learn about religion and spirituality in order to learn about yourself. If you don’t relate to a religion that your family practices, it is okay to branch out and learn about your personal spirituality.

The Benefits

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, religion’s main mental health benefits can “create a sense of belonging to a group,” “provide structure, regularity and predictability,” and “teach compassion, forgiveness and gratitude,” just to name a few.

The National Alliance on Mental Health also defines spirituality as, “a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves — [spirituality] helps a person look within and understand themselves while also figuring out the greater answer of how they fit in to the rest of the world. In other words: It helps people understand their interpretation of the meaning of life. “

They also write that spirituality, “enhances a person’s sense of self and empowerment through the choice to decide what their practice looks like, focuses on an individual’s connection to what they believe in and their own personal growth, [and] accepts any person, whether they are part of a religion or not.”

So does becoming more religious or spiritual actually help people?

The Spiritual Life of College Students: A National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose,” a study performed by UCLA students and faculty, analyzed the impacts of spirituality on college students socially and emotionally.

The study found that, “In fact, over half of students with a strong spiritual orientation are ‘frequently’ able to find meaning during difficult times (55%) and feel at peace and centered (58%), compared to only 11 percent and 18 percent, respectively, of low scorers on Spirituality.”

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Ring Up Your Resources

Organized religion is not for everyone, and it’s totally okay to not partake in religion or spirituality if it does not serve you. However, there are resources here at Penn State if you want to get in touch with your spiritual side, practice your preferred religion or find a new religion/spirituality that suits your needs.

According to the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Development at Penn State, “The largest multi-faith center of its kind in the country, The Pasquerilla Spiritual Center is home to the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Development at Penn State. The center offers a welcoming, safe, inclusive environment, and aims to promote an environment of appreciation and respect for religious and spiritual diversity.”

The Pasquerilla Spiritual Center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. when university classes are in session. They have three categories of ongoing programming that include, community-building programs/ activities, educational programs/activities, and environmental enhancement/safe spaces. Some programs are group-oriented, even interfaith-oriented, or there are individual-based programs like meeting with a religious/spiritual advisor.

You could also join a religious or spiritual group on campus. The Pasquerilla Spiritual Center supports many student organizations. Check out the directory of university-recognized “Religious/Spiritual” organizations here.

Tweet us, @VALLEYmag , and tell us about how you get in touch with your spiritual side!


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