The Meditation and Yoga Room and the Kindness Corner: Viola’s Library Project Plan

New Library Service and Space Plan by Viola

The Meditation and Yoga Room and the Kindness Corner

Viola assisting a student in a yoga pose.

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Overview

  • Meditation and Yoga Space: Create a separate space (a room would be ideal so it can be quiet space), and a simple design can be used for the interior making it spacious and comfortable for one or two patrons at a time to sit in meditation or do a few calming yoga poses. The walls can be transparent but creatively decorated in a soothing way that also offers privacy and little distraction to anyone using the room. Patrons will be given the chance to offer their insights for the creation of the space.
  • Kindness Corner: Within the room/space, there will be the Kindness Corner, which offers patrons the opportunity to share their favorite ways of showing kindness to self and to others, or perhaps share a story of the kindness they have received from others. There will be a Gratitude Jar and note paper or sticky notes, so that patrons can write out things that they feel grateful for and place these in the jar or they can post these notes on the wall in the Kindness Corner, along with notes on acts of kindness they have received or offered.
  • Accompanying Services: Once or twice a month, there will be a workshop on meditation or yoga offered to all library patrons who wish to attend. Patrons can learn the basics of self-care through meditation and yoga, and perhaps through creative and health-supporting practices (breathwork, art therapy, music therapy, relaxation techniques, spending time in nature, dietary choices) and other wellness practices. Patrons will be included in selecting wellness services/programming that they find meaningful.
  • Scheduling: Flexible. Patrons can use the room, individually or no more than two at a time, and can use it on a drop-in basis, if the room is available, or can schedule ahead of time (no more than a week in advance). A schedule of related events/programming will be shared in the space and also offered to patrons/visitors who might be interested in the accompanying services. Patrons can offer their feedback on what scheduling and events might work for them.
  • Technology: A music system (speakers and music player) will be installed in the room, along with a tablet that has selections/playlists of relaxing music. Patrons can choose to have the room be quiet or listen to soft music, and they can choose from a wide selection of relaxing instrumental and/or vocal music, as well as nature sounds. Patrons will be included in the process of selecting music to include on the tablet/device, and patrons can offer feedback for new music they would like to see included.

 

 Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  • To create a safe and quiet space for inner connection, within the library setting.
  • To create a space for patrons to turn inward and find stillness.
  • To support patrons in getting grounded, getting centered, and finding courage.
  • To support patrons’ individual sense of wellbeing.
  • To value and nurture compassionate self-care.
  • To value and nurture compassion for others.
  • To build an organizational and community culture of kindness to self and others.

Technology-Specific Goals:

  • To help patrons and staff “develop strategies” for a more balanced use of technology and a more balanced consumption of online media (see Steven Pinker, 2010) by offering the safe space and relevant guidance to practice “switching off” (Nancy Colier, 2016) and taking breaks during the day for mindfulness (Jenn Carson, 2015).
  • To assist the library and community members in becoming mindful participants in an increasingly virtual world (see Michael Stephens, 2008).

 

Inspiration for this Project:

I dedicate this proposed plan/project to two patrons at the public library where I work, who inspired me to think about what kind of space or service would be valuable to them at a time when they were feeling vulnerable. I also draw on my personal experience and how yoga helps me to be a more compassionate library worker.

For when the tears must flow. The patron, a young woman perhaps in her teens, who sat on a chair at the back of the adult wing of the library while I was on duty at the reference desk. One of my duties is to walk through the wing and just check it over, and as I did my walk-through, I heard someone sobbing. As I approached the area where she sat, she stopped sobbing, but as I walked away, she resumed crying. I didn’t stop to ask if she was alright or if there was anything I could help with. I felt that it would be best to respect her privacy and give her the space to cry. But it made me wish we had a space in the library where she could go to, where she could have more privacy, a safe space to cry and just be, without fear of someone hearing her or intruding.

For when you face a difficult decision and when you need to find stillness and inner peace and just care for yourself. The patron, who came to the library with scans/photos of cross-sections of her brain, needing to view the tumor growing there. She said she needed to view the photos and print some out and just look at them and become familiar with the tumor, as she contemplates the difficult decision to undergo an operation to remove the tumor. She said she has trouble sleeping. I asked her if she does meditation and she said yes. I shared some yoga poses with her that can help with sleep difficulties. She said she will try them. But it made me wish we had a space in the library where she could spend some time in stillness, meditating or just finding rest, gathering courage for the challenges that lie ahead. It made me wish we had a service that offered some coaching in basic meditation techniques or yoga poses for self-care or for people dealing with a health challenge and seeking insights that can support them in their journeys toward healing. It made we wish for programming that offers patrons various self-care tools, from meditation to exercise to diet and meditation, or book recommendations for self-care.

Personal inspiration. I practice yoga and teach a yoga class each week at the yoga studio I have been volunteering at for two years. This regular practice and now my teaching has helped me feel more grounded and able to focus on my goals. It has helped me feel strong and able to contribute to my community in a meaningful way, as a yogi and now as a library worker. I am able to call on my yoga practice to help me stay calm and generous and compassionate while at work. My yoga practice helps me act in loving ways toward staff and patrons, connecting with my coworkers and with patrons in a way that is warm and inclusive. This way of connecting with people is modeled at the yoga studio and serves as a guide for me when I am at the library. Another personal reason for this project is my journey with technology and the virtual world, especially with social media. A year ago, after realizing I was spending too much time on Facebook and at my blog,and not dedicating enough time to other more important business in my life, I decided to take the year off from social media. It has been over a year now and I continue my break. I have been able to enjoy a very productive year, taking on many more tasks in my daily life and connecting with people in the physical world. I have felt happier and experienced more success and fulfillment in my daily life. I still spend time online, mostly for my MLIS online coursework, but I have a much more healthy and balanced relationship today with my computer and the Internet. I feel much more in control of my time spent online and able to devote online time to accomplishing things that support my life goals.

 

Description of Community You Wish to Engage:

With this new library space and its accompanying services/programming, I want to engage all members of the library’s community. I want this to be a very safe space for all members to visit and spend time in, and I want it to be a service that invites participation in a flexible and non-coercive manner.

Above all, I wish to include/welcome members of the community who may find themselves in need of time and space for self-care (seniors, busy parents, busy working professionals, job seekers who are stressed, students, people recovering from or facing a chronic illness, etc.), or who might have an interest in learning more about how to support themselves through difficult times, times that we all face sooner or later, times when we all need to get grounded and centered and find inner peace and courage.

  • Adults of all ages can use this space and service
  • Teenagers can use this space and service
  • Children over the age of 8 can use this space and service
  • Children under the age of 8 can use this space with a parent, guardian, or older sibling
  • Students, faculty and staff (if project is done in an academic library)

Ideal Library Settings:

  • Public library setting would be an ideal setting, where diverse patrons visit with various needs and challenges, whether personal or professional or health/wellness related.
  • Academic library setting would also be appropriate, where students often go through times of stress, academic and professional but also personal situations and health/wellness issues where services/programming that nurture balance and self-care would be helpful.

 

Action Brief Statement:

Focusing on the public library where I work:

  • Convince the Library Commission and City and the Library Friends Foundation that by creating The Meditation and Yoga Room and Kindness Corner they will enrich the lives of patrons and enhance their wellbeing and build a strong community, which will become a healthier and happier and safer community, because we when we care for our health/wellness we are in a better position to offer care to others and to be more productive and constructive members of society.

Focusing on the academic library where I work:

  • Convince the Community College District and Campus Administration and Dean of the Learning Resource Center that by creating The Meditation and Yoga Room and Kindness Corner they will enrich the lives of students and faculty/staff and enhance their wellbeing and build a strong campus community, which will become a healthier and happier and safer community, because we when we care for our health/wellness we are in a better position to offer care to others and to be more productive and constructive members of society and to be successful academically, professionally, and personally.

 

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Space/Room Examples:

Yoga and Meditation Resources:

Resources for Yoga in Libraries:

Scholarly Resource:

 

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy Related to Service:

  • Mission: To provide a safe space for patrons to engage in self-care, a space where they can feel supported in their journey toward feeling more grounded and centered or finding the courage to face a life challenge. To reassure patrons that they are not alone because we are here to offer encouragement and empowerment, but to also let them know that if they need to be alone and find stillness, then we have a safe and comfortable and relaxing space for them to use. And it is okay to take a nap in the Meditation and Yoga Room! A good, solid nap can go a long way!
  • Guidelines for the Space: Patrons and staff must treat the space with respect. No shoes are allowed. The space is clean, clean enough that visitors can sit and meditate on the floor, or on the cushions and bean bags and yoga mats. No food in the room, but bottled water is okay. No use of devices in the room, such as phones or laptops or tablets, except for the tablet provided for the music system. The room is meant as a space to find stillness, so it cannot be a space for using technology to do work. It is primarily a restful space, so guidelines will encourage (invite) patrons to only use the room to unwind, switch off, and relax! As best they can. My hope is that the space will be a peaceful one and will help patrons who might be dealing with “information overload,” “techno-stress,” and other stresses that are caused (or aggravated) by the overuse of technological devices and online tools like social media that can be overwhelming to keep track of and that can also be highly distracting and addictive (Nancy Colier, 2016; Herold, 2015; Michael Stephens, 2008). Other spaces/areas in the library will provide work stations and allow for computer use, so the meditation room really can only be reserved for taking time for stillness, meditation, and some yoga stretches and/or a nap. Crying is allowed. Taking the time to feel what you feel and reconnect with your inner self is celebrated. Librarians, library managers and supervisors, and other front-line staff, as well s patrons, will be consulted for ideas of helpful and practical policies.
  • Sample Policies: See the Humboldt State University set of policies for their meditation room: https://library.humboldt.edu/about/policies/meditation.html
  • Services/Programming Guidelines: Workshops and trainings or coaching sessions must be relevant and accessible to patrons and must be tailored to provide basic knowledge and skills that patrons can apply in their daily lives. Nothing too esoteric or complex, and nothing dogmatic or rigid, no philosophy that creates a sense of exclusion. Programing and services must be sensitive and inclusive of diverse perspectives and ways of being. Health professionals and public health specialists in the city can be consulted to gain a deeper understanding of the common health issues community members face, but patrons can also request or suggested relevant/meaningful programming for them and their families. Wellness workshops for seniors, other adults, teenagers and kids can be organized.

 

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:

  • For the public library where I work, I would approach the Library Commission and City for funding, but I would also work closely with the Friends of the Library Foundation to ask for their support, since they often do fundraising and donate thousands of dollars each year to the library. Funds would go mainly to creating the room/space (construction and remodeling of the current library space and installing the sound system for music in the room). Patrons/staff can donate new or gently-used items to furnish/decorate the space.
  • For the academic library where I work, I would talk to the Dean of the Learning Resource Center (which houses the library) and the campus President. I would ask them to include the creation of such a space or the designation of one study room for the meditation and yoga room. I would also ask for support in programming and services, or coordinate with the fitness and health areas of campus and the faculty in these areas, and draw on their expertise to suggest and organize wellness workshops that might benefit students.

 

Action Steps & Timeline:

  • The room and services can be tested, using a study room in the library, remodeling or redecorating and furnishing it to be a space for stillness. Services/events can be offered to assess patrons’ interest.
  • Alternative Path (more feasible/affordable for library): If creating the space is not feasible, then services/events related to can still be scheduled and offered to give support to patrons in their wellness journeys.
  • Timeline would be 1 year, with the first 6 months to plan and design the space and services (with patron participation invited and encouraged), and to also raise funds; and the second 6 months to create the space and schedule actual programming, as well as promote the space and associated events.

 

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:

  • Initially, staff and patrons might be invited to volunteer their time, for gathering feedback and making plans for the space. Staff with an interest in wellness will be encouraged to participate and take the lead on various aspects of the project, delegating tasks to them and trusting them to bring their ideas and enthusiasm forward.
  • Patrons can be invited to volunteer for programming and services, if they have an area of expertise they feel comfortable sharing, or if they know someone who might be interested in teaching others what they know about meditation and yoga wellness.
  • Once the project is up and running, staff will be paid an hourly rate for any help they provide and guest speakers will be paid and hourly rate for sharing their knowledge.
  • There will not be a heavy reliance on staff to manage the space, since patrons can simply sign-in to use the room. The main cost would be for inviting and hosting coaches, teachers, guest speakers and providing materials for programming and maintaining materials (minimal furnishings and decorations) in the room itself.
  • Staff will be invited to make use of the space themselves, to enrich their own lives and to offer feedback.

Yoga benefits for library staff, by Jenn Carson (2015).

 

Training for this Technology or Service:

  • Training for staff will entail providing them with some basic knowledge about meditation and yoga, with a focus on the health benefits of meditation.
  • Training for staff will also entail providing them with reading material on the benefits of showing/expressing gratitude and kindness.
  • Training will include having meditation/yoga teachers provide workshops for staff, educating staff so that staff can speak confidently to patrons about the benefits of meditation, yoga, gratitude, and kindness.
  • Training can include once-a-week workshops provided to staff, for about an hour long, and spanning a period of 6 months, in which different modules cover various healing modalities and philosophies.
  • At the end of this staff training, staff receive a certificate as something very fun and cool and full of compassion. They can be called “Heart Ambassadors” or “Gratitude Ambassadors” or “Kindness Kin” or “Meditation Guide” as a way to acknowledge their accomplishments in the training, and they can be given the opportunity to design services and activities related to the Meditation and Yoga Room and the Kindness Corner.
  • Staff will always be reminded that this training is optional, and they can be paid their normal hourly salary during the training hour, and this hour can be scheduled to match their work hours or can be done after work.
  • Some trainings can be done online, by watching tutorials, and some can be done at home, by reading various assigned materials (short books or articles).
  • For events and workshops, only trained specialists with certifications will be invited to teach patrons. If staff and patrons have these certifications, they can also be teachers.

 

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:

  • The space and services will be promoted within the library. The space will be promoted only within the library, but the services/events can be promoted in the community and not only within the library. If demand for the space is too high, only registered library patrons will be allowed to use the space, to manage usage of the space. If demand is not too high, the space can be opened to the public for certain periods of time. The focus will be library users, however, since the community already offers many yoga studios and meditation centers to the public to use. Within the library, flyers and brochures can be made to share with patrons and to post for visitors to take home with them.

 

Evaluation:

Documentation and Privacy:

  • Use of the Meditation and Yoga Room will be recorded, since patrons will be required to sign-in (first name only) and to also reserve the room (if they want to schedule a time to use the room). Usage can be tracked using a spreadsheet, recording the date and the number of patrons who used the room on that date.
  • Attendance will also be recorded for any events or programming. Number of attendees or participants will be recorded, also in a spreadsheet. Trends can be observed, to see if there are specific times of week or month or year when there is more demand for the room.
  • Patrons and users will remain anonymous, as sign-in sheets will be shredded once the number of participants or users is counted.
  • In the Kindness Corner, daily and weekly counts of Gratitude Notes can be made to see how many patrons are contributing their messages and words of gratitude.
  • Patrons can choose to initial/sign their words or remain anonymous, but full names will never be required.

Surveys and Feedback:

  • Patrons, staff and other users/visitors will be invited to share their feedback anonymously, using an online suggestion box (see https://www.suggestionox.com/ ), with inspiration from the Michael Casey guest lecture for the Hyperlinked Library Course with Professor Stephens (SJSU, iSchool, Fall 2017).
  • A page can be created on the library website with space for comments, suggestions, and testimonials from patrons and staff (Michael Casey and Michael Stephens, 2008).
  • Patrons and staff can be invited to reorgnaize the meditation room in a manner that suits their mood or needs, and then they can be invited to share how their changes enhanced their time in the space (Michael Casey and Michael Stephens, 2008).
  • Talking with staff and patrons will be a key way of knowing if the space and services are helpful and of “measuring progress” or success (Michael Casey and Michael Stephens, 2008).

Expanding the service in future:

  • I envision making it more participatory, perhaps allowing patrons and staff with specific skills and expertise to share their knowledge and be part of the programming as teachers and coaches and guides, or perhaps as volunteers who can offer assistance to others. It would be great to form partnerships with wellness organizations and businesses in the community and have them contribute their knowledge and expertise to events.
  • I envision bringing the Kindness Corner out into the general area of the library, so that it is not simply tucked away in the meditation and yoga room. By having the Kindness Corner in an area of the library where it is more visible, patrons of all ages and backgrounds can participate in sharing their acts of kindness or stories of kindness they have received. The Gratitude Jar could also be brought out and placed in an area of the library with more traffic, to encourage patron participation.

 

References

Jenn Carson (2015). Yoga in the Library (with chart included above).

Michael Casey (2017). Guest Lecture, for the Hyperlinked Library Course with Professor Stephens (SJSU, iSchool, Fall 2017)

Nancy Colier (2016). The Power of Off: A Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World.

Bejamin Herold (2015). LA iPad Program an Ongoing Mess, Evaluators Find.

Steven Pinker (2010). Mind Over Mass Media.

Michael Stephens (2008). Taming Technolust: 10 Steps for Planning in a 2.0 World.

Michael Casey and Michael Stephens (2008). Measuring Progress.

15 thoughts on “The Meditation and Yoga Room and the Kindness Corner: Viola’s Library Project Plan

  1. Viola, I love love love this project plan, and commend you for coming up wth something that is so holistically tied in to your community. What a great way to engage the community and enrich the library setting. I concur that this would be a useful room in a public or academic setting, but might even be helpful in a special library (like a corporate or medical library). Great work!

    • Ooooo…I had not thought of medical libraries but oh yes, that would be so fantastic!!! I can see the wonderful role that such a place could play in a medical library setting, or in a hospital, and even in a corporate setting. I feel that the future of work and life in America will be moving toward a place of balance for people (hopefully in the near future, not the distant future!), and so I anticipate seeing more wellness practices and more recognition for things like yoga. I can see kids also benefiting from this, in school settings and school libraries. It is the same idea behind yoga in the prisons…just a wonderful tool that empowers people to be in charge of their health and happiness. I love it, too! 🙂

      Just found this link…so inspiring! https://prisonyoga.org/

  2. This is such a wonderful participatory service plan! One of the libraries in my system, I work in a public library setting, hosts a beginning yoga and pilates class every Tuesday night and the patrons love it. I really like your idea of a separate room as well. We have a study room at the library where I work and people use it all the time. It’s definitely nice to be able to work or decompress in a space where not everyone can see you or see what you’re doing.

    • I really love the idea of having such a space…especially because many people might feel hesitant about going to a yoga studio and having to pay a membership fee to participate in their classes and use their space. Having a space at the library that is free to use would be great for people who cannot afford a studio pass, and free yoga and meditation and wellness classes at the library would really sweeten the deal. But I know that I am biased, since I love yoga…still, the benefits of these calming practices are being documented more and more. And the number of people practicing yoga in the USA has quadrupled in the last decade. That says a lot! 🙂

  3. Brilliant proposal!

    I am advocating for at least one small technology-free, sound-proofed space. It will probably not be big enough for a yoga class, but might be big enough for one individual to practice.

    So important to include mindfulness in our spaces, our programs, and our work routines.

    I need to reflect more on this.

    Thank you.

    • I believe that having a tech-free space is going to be a health recommendation in the very near future–if not already!!! 🙂 We all need to power off now and then and reconnect to nature and bask in our face-to-face connections with other people. This grounding is so key to our health and sanity.

  4. I really love the idea of a peaceful, and relaxing nook at the library. I think often in our quest to make libraries community oriented sometimes we forget that a little solitutde is nice. And, I think having the music accompanyng the yoga will make it so relaxing as well. Great idea to tap into your community.

    • You have echoed my thoughts exactly. I teach a yoga class each week and I have to say, it really does something magical for me…and my students are giving me great feedback. Someone fell asleep in my class a few weeks ago, during our final yoga pose…it was nice to see her relax and rest…something we all need to do, and a yoga practice helps us cultivate that restfulness. So necessary for our health and balance.

  5. Viola, as the others have said, what a great idea. I loved reading about your plan, but it was also great to hear that libraries are already doing this. Your plan is incredibly detailed and well thought out. Do you think you will implement it at your library?

    • Hi Mary, I talked with the staff at the college library where I work, but they are not going to create a meditation room, for now, though it is something they have discussed. I have not asked about it at the public library where I work, but I have a feeling that space availability would be an issue…as well as funding, perhaps. Still, I love the idea of such a space. I have a feeling that some patrons would really appreciate a safe space to go and reflect and find some serenity…it could even be an outdoor meditation space, a little zen garden or a rock labyrinth that could be wonderful for meditative walks. I am borrowing this idea from the ashram I have visited here in Nor Cal, where they have a nice space for meditative walks.

  6. Hi Viola,
    I really enjoyed your plan and think we need more spaces in libraries (and in public) for people to use for leisure and mindfulness activities. I attended Humboldt State University, but I had no idea they have a meditation room! I wonder how long it has been there. I must admit I didn’t hang out at the library much (eeks!) when I was a student there… It was almost always busy and all the good spots were usually taken!

    -Michelle

    • You won’t believe this, Michelle, but both of my parents went to Humboldt. I need to ask them if they recall the library there, but this was many many years ago, and they probably have forgotten by now…or maybe the library there did not have such a space yet. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  7. @viola this is really well thought out, kudos! Our academic library opened an inclusive prayer/meditation room last year in partnership with our Student Affairs division and with input from the Muslim Student Association: http://lib.calpoly.edu/study-spaces-and-tech/library-spaces/
    I like your idea of a gratitude wall and I think we could definitely incorporate that into our space. If your library is able to move forward with this, I am more than happy to share all our our info with you and also chat about how we maintain the space. ~C

    • Hi Cheryl, Wow, this is amazing, I am so glad to see your library offers a space for meditation. I am taking a look at the page and reading the policies, and I love it. I talked with the staff at the college library where I work, but they are not going to create a meditation room, for now, though it is something they have discussed. I have not askd about it at the public library where I work, but I have a feeling that space availability would be an issue…as well as funding, perhaps. Still, I love the idea of such a space. I have a feeling that some patrons would really appreciate a safe space to go and reflect and find some serenity…it could even be an outdoor meditation space, a little zen garden or a rock labyrinth that could be wonderful for meditative walks. Oooo, I like that idea! Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope I get to chat with you about this meditation space at your library and about your work and library in general.

  8. This is Noah Lenstra. Thanks for mentioning my work in your proposal. I love this idea. It reminds me very much of the Yoga Room at the Chicago O’Hare Airport http://www.flychicago.com/ohare/ServicesAmenities/amenities/Pages/yoga.aspx.

    “The 15 x 16-foot Yoga Room features a sustainable bamboo wood floor, floor to ceiling mirrors on one wall and exercise mats as well as an area to place personal articles and garments, making it the perfect space for relaxation, meditation and yoga practice.”

    I would love to see a library have such a space. Hopefully you will be able to pave the way forward!

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