MeditationWorks x Stephen M. Ross School of Business


On November 9th, 2017 at 6 am...

The team from MO 414 awoke to paint the town red for MeditationWorks arrival on campus. By this, I mean sweet angels Sydney and Haoyang (bless their hearts) got out of bed at the ripe edge of dawn to drive their cars to Ross and hold the three parking spots directly in front of the business school. They kept their cars there until noon to ensure the truck would have a place to park. Me, on the other hand, from the warm comfort of my bed, downloaded the ePark app and paid for the three spots at 8:01 am when they went live on the app. There would be a heart-stopping moment in between Sydney exiting her parking spot and the truck entering, in which a student would try to park in the momentarily open spot. With more agility than ever exhibited prior, I threw my body in front of the Jeep wrangler, halting the almost swiping of the parking spot. Despite angering Hugh Mosko (student, driver of the car, close friend), the parking of the truck went off without a hitch. Later, I would try and fail to coerce Hugh into a meditation session. Josh Leider, Head of Operations and group facilitator seamlessly executed a perfect parallel park, delivering the MeditationWorks to its prime perch in front of the business school. The eagle had landed.

The day was amazing. The success of the event can be accredited to the immense effort, hours of hard work, and organizational prowess of Dhara, Sydney, Chase, and Haoyang who made sure that every aspect of the initiative went off without a hitch. Dhara seamlessly coordinated Mind Matters, Active Minds, CAPS, and Wolverine Support Network through numerous meetings before the event. Thus, on the day of, the table was staffed by enthusiastic, informed, and eager members of all the mental health groups, a immense feat that required a robust coordination effort not to be underestimated. The table itself was a product of Dhara’s amazing communication and organizational abilities, as she reserved the table for the perfect amount of time to allow the groups to set up, the computers and surveys to be displayed, and for Haoyang’s advertisement board to be positioned.

The intense parking process, juggling three cars as placeholders until the truck arrived, was the solution that came from hours of logistical headache on the phone with the city parking department that Sydney handled with grace. Unable to secure parking covers, we nearly had to call off the event, if not for the ingenuity of Sydney’s idea and her dedication (driving not one, but TWO cars to Ross at 6 am) to hold the spaces. She communicated with the city department, spoke frequently with Gretchen, explored countless parking alternatives, and played email tag until we nearly got dizzy. Without having the parking figured out, there would have been no truck. Sydney was an absolutely critical asset in the parking debacle, and made the event possible.

The impact of the event was measured and analyzed within 30 minutes of its conclusion thanks to the phenomenal data collection and analysis abilities that Haoyang used and the awesome survey that Chase made. Using established research scales in her creation of the pre and post meditation surveys, carefully recording the data, making sure as many students as possible filled out both surveys, and extensively combing through the data, Haoyang was able to give our team statistically significant, causational insights about the impact of the meditation on students. It allowed us to realize a feeling of accomplishment and empowerment, as we had proof that we had achieved our purpose of positively impacting students’ lives. Haoyang was able to conclude from the data through a paired t-test, that students experienced more energy and reduced stress after doing one meditation session with MeditationWorks. By asking students to write the last three numbers of their U of M ID on each survey, she was able to pair 30 data points, which is a large enough sample size to back up these findings.

Each mediation session was nearly full, multiple times maxing out the 15 person limit. Many students from the Winter Garden, curious as to why students were gathering, wandered over and ended up joining a session. Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, as students asked when the truck would be coming back and how they could get more involved. Interviewing students before and after their mediation experience was an amazing way to connect and hear the stories of what brought the students to try meditation and how it brightened their day.

This event was made possible by immense amounts of generosity and faith, for which we must thank many people for supporting the initiative. A huge thank you must go to Mark St. George, who completely funded the event with an incredibly generous monetary gift. Thank you to Gretchen Spreitzer for helping us every bit of the way, especially with the parking fiasco, and for showing up to take a meditation session today. This could not have been possible without Jake, Josh, and Joanne, the wonderful founders of MeditationWorks who took a gamble on a random group of U of M students and drove an hour to bring this amazing experience to our campus. Thank you Kali Smith for telling me about this amazing company and for being the one who planted the seed that this all grew from.

To the Joy Soldier community, (Bryan, Kara, Kali, Mattie, Forrest, Emily + so many others), thank you for being there today and helping spread joy throughout our communities. Thank you Amy Young for letting me change my presentation date to next week and for being a compassionate, wonderful teacher. To Shahnaz Broucek, who encouraged me to try yoga and to Andrea Clark who encouraged me to commit to self-care. To all the students who showed up today and were fully present for the 10 minute meditation. To Parker McKee, who even after realizing at 2:03 pm, 3 minutes into his meditation session, that he had a 2:00 pm call, and continued to sit and not react. To all of the student volunteers who dedicated their time to working the table and to the group members of the MO 414 team who each brought their full selves to this project to make it happen- thank you. This was an immensely powerful day and one of the best.

Video Here: