Spirituality – the word is meant to invoke a sense of peace. Yet when Health Promotion and Wellness included spirituality as one of their seven markers of good health, they found people shied from the term.

“People thought we were talking about religion or church. They were often wary about discussing spirituality, for fear of offending others,” said Director of Health Promotion and Wellness Nikki Brauer, who noted spirituality in wellness reflects an individual sense of self.

“When we say spirituality, we are talking about understanding your purpose and meaning, and having a clear idea of your values and ethics,” she said.

Health Promotion and Wellness and their colleagues have been helping the Illinois State community understand that idea of spirituality through one of their workshops called Peace of Mind. The one-hour interactive discussion encourages participants to explore what is important to them, and how that connects to others.

“It’s about community building, finding out where we align and less about where we are different,” said Brauer. “These are hallmarks of being a healthy individual.”

Activities in the workshop include a variety of exercises geared toward building connections, such as one called Dominos. “A person has to stand up and say one thing that keeps her grounded, such as family or friends. If another person in the group is grounded by the same thing, then that person stands and links arms with the person standing. It shows us how we are alike,” said Brauer.

The workshop arose from a 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in which 59 percent of both first-year students and seniors responded they were developing their personal values and a code of ethics while pursuing their degree at Illinois State.

Peace of Mind was developed and is facilitated with faculty from the College of Education and staff from the Dean of Students Office, Campus Ministry, University Housing Services, Student Counseling Services, Campus Recreation and Health Promotion and Wellness. Workshops have been presented to groups of faculty, staff and students on campus. “The workshop works, whether we are connecting 80 people in a division, or one person who wants to have a deeper understanding of personal values,” Brauer said.

The overall goal of the workshop is aligned with the values of the University, noted Brauer. “Part of understanding our identity as a campus is to understand ourselves and those around us. Illinois State is a caring community, and this is one of the many ways we can strengthen that caring relationship.”

Groups can request the Peace of Mind workshop and other workshops online at the Health Promotion and Wellness website or by calling 309-438-WELL (9355).