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{Pause}: Cookies, Art, and Zero Expectation

Students are frequently told to prioritize “self-care” practices such as meditation, reading, or signing up for yoga classes instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media. More often than not, these activities feel time-consuming, particularly when already faced with homework, exams, and club meetings. Devoting a half-hour on a Wednesday night to secular meditation may seem particularly impossible, though for many students, {Pause} provides a simple escape from the intensity of college life.
Every Wednesday night at 9pm, attendees arrive at Gomes Chapel and are greeted with hot chai, a plate of cookies, and candlelit pews. After a brief introduction and the bang of a gong, students sit in silence, interrupted only by short spurts of music, poetry, dance, or other forms of art.
One of the program coordinators, junior Lila Patinkin ’20, appreciates {Pause} for its lack of expectation. A common issue for college students is feeling a constant pressure to find a place, a group, and an activity. She referred to the event as “a really wonderful break from that, and a time where you can re-center and think on something that you wouldn’t give yourself a half-hour to think about otherwise.” For Patinkin, {Pause} provides a space to forget about the social pressures of college and take time for her own thoughts.
Sophomore Abigail Kany ’21 also mentioned enjoying the lack of expectation put on {Pause} attendees. She particularly likes the fact that unlike most activities on campus, students do not have to interact with anybody while at the event. “Everybody goes into this space and you can sit next to people or far away, and it’s one of the only times during the week at college that nothing is expected of you,” Kany describes.
{Pause} has a similar calming effect on the other program coordinator, junior EB Hall ’20. She struggled with adjusting to Bates as an underclassman, and the event has not only given her something to be passionate about, but has also provided her with a space to focus on her own growth. “It has allowed me to be more centred and actually enjoy myself in college,” Hall described, attesting to the powerful ability of {Pause} to create an approachable meditative atmosphere for students.
What is special about {Pause} is that although its aspirations are similar to more classic meditation styles, it does not force students to dwell in silence. Threaded through the event are small snippets of art, which serve a dual purpose of breaking up the quiet and sparking guided thoughts in students. Although this past week’s theme was MLK day, other themes are more abstract, such as “crows” during the first week back.
Kany began attending last year, after hearing about the event from her Bates tour guide. She appreciates the prompts, although she admitted that her mind frequently wanders and moves to things that she had been thinking about during the day. “That’s what I like; I can think about things that I don’t really have time to process during the day, and I’m given an excuse to sit there and think about that one thing.” Similar to the program coordinators, Kany appreciates {Pause} because it allows students to take time to reflect.
Although devoting time on a Wednesday night may seem infeasible, and {Pause} is “kind of a weird concept when you talk about it out loud,” as confessed by Kany, the event is special in its ability to balance reflective silence with artistic entertainment. Looking for a way to quell the demands of endless people encouraging you to attempt “self-care”? Try giving {Pause} a shot.