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Go zen for finals

From dance to meditation, free and inexpensive ways to find peace pre-exams

By Nadvia Davis
On March 12, 2012

With finals just around the corner, many DePaul students are trying not to go into information-overload from their textbooks. And what better way to avoid headaches than by finding the perfect spot to relax in-between study sessions. Thankfully, Chicago has some hidden pockets of relaxation throughout the city that are just for you.

In some cases, peace means an elaborate day of beauty. Students should check out the Soma Institute where massages are only $35. For an even better massage deal on select days, the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine has a great massage clinic with Thai massages and Swedish massages for as low as $30.

But the pampering doesn't have to end there; stop by Pivot Point Beauty School for a haircut that is only $11, which includes a shampoo and blow dry. They also offer a manicure and pedicure combo at $23.

"The deals are astounding and worth every penny, even for broke college students," said Kourtanya, a cosmetology student at Pivot Point Beauty School on Irving Park. All of these institutions are student-operated facilities.

For those not spa-inclined, a nice café with cozy couches and natural lighting is a great escape. Just off of Clark and Fullerton is the Noble Tree Coffee and Tea café.

"Noble Tree Café is made for relaxation. This place lures you in with the aroma of herbal tea and three floors of free Wi-Fi," said Ashli Baker, a DePaul student.

If the café scene doesn't scream Zen for you, then perhaps an exercise class might. On the Lincoln Park campus, the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center offers a variety of classes including Zumba and Quick Crunch.

"When I use to dance ballet, that was a place of Zen for me. I use to get my frustrations out by dancing," said Rachel Hillas, a student at DePaul.

Author Anne Ford, published a book titled "Peaceful Places Chicago," where she looks high and low for the city's most tranquil places. Ford discovered 119 peaceful places ranging from Botany Pond near University of Chicago's campus in Hyde Park, to Emily Oak Nature Center in Skokie. Ford's book is proof that one can find serenity in a busy city like Chicago.

What is nice about Ford's findings is that not only are they aesthetically great places to absorb some peace and quiet, but they are also affordable for students. Zen Master Robert Althouse of the Zen Life & Meditation Center elaborated on the price of meditation as an option for students.

"We realize the times are difficult for many, including college students… We have set the price of all our offerings at a level we believe everyone can afford," Althouse said. The cost of a basic meditation class at Zen Life is $20, and members can receive discounts.

According to the Zen Life and Meditation Center website "the origins of the word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the middle Chinese word Dzyen (Modern Mandarin: Chán), which is translated as "absorption" or "meditative state." Zen emphasizes the personal expression of experiential wisdom in the attainment of enlightenment."

"Once you understand how much of the business in our lives contributes to the stress in the first place…you also understand the many benefits that arise from a daily practice of mindfulness meditation," Althouse said.

When seeking relief from study-related stress, students have a plethora of places, options and people to help, but the key is to find the location that fits you best. Other places students shared were Hot Yoga, a walk over by the lakefront to calm down, and going to church.

So do yourself a favor during finals this year and find a peaceful place to rest your mind.

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