Tufts junior works to create Mindfulness House on campus

Tufts junior Khuyen Bui hopes to bring a Mindfulness House to Tufts' campus. Caroline Ambros / The Tufts Daily
  • Discussions are currently underway to implement a Mindfulness House, a potential on-campus special interest house based around the Buddhist concept of mindfulness. The project, spearheaded by junior Khuyen Bui, would allow for a maximum of 10 people.

Bui explained that he wanted to create a Mindfulness House on campus to have a space where people could practice personal mindfulness and mindfulness toward others. Mindfulness is “the practice of coming back to the present moment; literally, [not getting] caught up in your own thoughts,” according to Bui.

“I think [the house would be made of] a community of people who practice being mindful and being caring, and [who are] appreciative of the world around them, especially the people around them,” Bui said. “The number one thing [would be] caring about each other’s development in all kinds of ways, especially the inner journey.”

He explained that the house would be able to hold various relevant events.

“Daily practices, weekly talks among ourselves,” he said. “Sometimes teachers [could] come in and we can do all sorts of things like yoga and tai chi.”

Bui said that he went to Director of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) Yolanda King last year with the intention of prototyping the Mindfulness House in Hillsides Apartments. His intention was to have a 10-person suite of like-minded friends, but the plan fell through.

“Last minute, we realized [Hillsides] has to be single gender,” he said. “That was like, ‘Oh, gosh.’”

Bui said that, according to King, he needed to show student interest in order to get approval for the house, partly by holding events.

“[King] said that getting a house approved may take one or two years, and then you have to show that there is interest,” he said. “This is always a problem, the chicken or the egg. To be recognized, you have to do stuff, but to do stuff, you actually have to be recognized as a club.”

King explained that Bui would have to go through the process of getting an advisor and developing a long-term plan for student interest in the house.

“The process for any student interested in starting a special interest house would involve creating a mission, goals, obtaining an advisor, developing a plan for recruiting and maintaining consistent occupancy and demand for the house,” King told the Daily in an email. “Then once the proposal is complete a committee of students, staff and faculty would review for a final decision.”

Bui said he has gauged the interest of his friends from groups such as Tufts Buddhist Sangha, the Tufts Hillel meditation group and Health Services’ group for meditation and mindful eating to decide if there was any support for his intended project. Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, the university’s Jewish chaplain and Neubauer executive director of Tufts Hillel, and University Chaplain Reverend Greg McGonigle have expressed their support, Bui said.

Rasika Sethi, a member of Tufts Buddhist Sangha, expressed optimism for and interest in Bui’s proposal.

“I think [the house] is a great idea and it’ll help form a community of like-minded people to come together and encourage each other to live mindfully,” Sethi, a junior, said. “It is hard enough to practice regular meditation and mindfulness, but being in a group will really help make it easier. If there are enough people interested, which I think there is, it is very possible.”

However, Bui acknowledged that plans for the house have not moved forward much this semester.

“I haven’t pushed it that much this year, but I feel like I should get a few more people [to support the house],” he said.

In the meantime, Bui has found a partial model for his project in the Muslim House on campus, where he currently lives. The house has a prayer area on the first floor, which can also be used for meditation, he said.

“I can’t ask for a better place right now,” he said. “I love this place. People don’t party too hard or drink here … [There is] just a general atmosphere of how people are very personable and yet not very noisy, and the space downstairs is just beautiful.”

Bui believes that having a Mindfulness House on campus would encourage a new conversation and sense of comfort among students across campus.

“I think letting people know and be aware that there is a space designated for slowing down can send a powerful message,” Bui said. “I think what I have seen on campus is that everyone has a problem. Sometimes it is very difficult to talk about those. Having a place where people are being real with each other is good. I honestly think there is a lot of bullshit in the world. I just want to be real.”