Reaching New Heights: A Yoga Retreat with Laurentians
Why I decided to attend St. Lawrence as a high school student and my favorite aspect of St. Lawrence as a current college student are two questions that I find myself being asked on a regular basis. Interestingly, I also find myself immediately responding to both questions with the same simple, yet complex answer - the people.
I visited St. Lawrence for the first time on a brisk spring day, but immediately felt the warmth of campus through my interactions with students, professors, and other community members. So much so that by the end of my visit, I knew that I wanted to spend my next four years at St. Lawrence as a result of the people I talked to, listened to, and observed in only a few short hours. My initial impression of a highly active, motivated, and compassionate community that I was eager to be a part of is continually confirmed every day thanks to the opportunities I’ve had here over the last three years.
I have repeatedly found that St. Lawrence not only enables, but rather encourages students to develop and practice their unique intellectual, extracurricular, and personal passions through a variety of opportunities, thus resulting in an active student body comprised of diverse talents. While I have had the opportunity to accomplish what I had hoped to get out of my college experience as a result of the dedicated professors, faculty, and fellow students here, I’ve also been presented with unique opportunities that I never would have imagined taking part in when I envisioned my four years of college. Many of these opportunities have provided me with new perspectives, connected me with new people, and allowed me to reflect in new ways on my St. Lawrence experience.
Just last semester, I realized I was amidst one of these opportunities while on the summit of Balanced Rock, located in Lake Placid, N.Y. After completing the scenic hike, I sat in silence listening to a guided meditation led by St. Lawrence alum Anna (Izzo) Rissberger ‘18 and surrounded by 11 other current St. Lawrence students, only one of whom I had met before that weekend. Each of us had entered a drawing a few weeks prior with the hopes of being randomly selected to attend the “Mindfulness in Motion Yoga Retreat” that Anna had planned, completely unaware at the time of our entry as to how peaceful and restorative the retreat would be.
Previously connected only through our commonality of attending St. Lawrence, Anna, myself, and the other students on the retreat spent the weekend further connecting with each other and ourselves through restorative yoga classes, guided meditations surrounded by bright fall foliage, a reflective writing workshop, and a rewarding hike. We laughed over delicious home-cooked meals comprised of arugula salads, roasted vegetables, pumpkin chili, warm bread, and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. We played card games and chatted into the night from our closely positioned bunk beds. We took the time to relax, reflect, and graciously share the thoughtful weekend we were provided with each other.
We said two hard rounds of goodbyes at the end of the weekend. The first to Anna as we left Lake Placid to return home to Canton, and the second to each other once we made it back to campus and reintegrated into the bustle of daily life. It was such a special experience to be immediately connected with each other during the retreat through our commonality of St. Lawrence. My experiences that weekend surrounded by Laurentians further iterated the reasons why I initially chose and continue to love being a student here. Not only did Anna openly and honestly share her personal passions with us through thoughtfully designing and executing such a restorative weekend, but each of us on the retreat also shared aspects of our diverse intellectual, extracurricular, and personal interests with each other. While I never thought that I would accept an offer to spend a weekend away with 11 people I didn’t know, I will forever be grateful that I did and that St. Lawrence provided me the opportunity to do so as it further opened my eyes to the high levels of passion, motivation, and generosity that members of the St. Lawrence community continually exude towards each other and beyond.