Jill Klimpel, an academic advisor to the Ohio State Departments of Political Science and Geography, seeks to help students beyond their academics.
Klimpel has worked for the past two years to offer affordable meditation classes to all students on campus through the Art of Living Foundation. The foundation’s next retreat will take place on campus this weekend.
After becoming a counselor in the state of Ohio in 2012, Klimpel found that many students were struggling not with their academics but with personal problems like depression and anxiety.
“I get these beautiful, brilliant students, some of whom are at the top of their class and who fight below the surface,” said Klimpel. “They feel like they have to be perfect and they are not good enough.”
Klimpel said it was especially important to her to help these students because she saw in them a reflection of her former selves. In 2010, as a doctoral candidate in Brazil, she was studying the increased rates of Caesarean sections when her life took an unexpected turn.
“My marriage of 10 years suddenly fell apart,” she said. “My car broke down and I had almost no income because I was still in elementary school. It was just too much. I broke.”
After several months of trying to rebuild her life and battling major depression, Klimpel said she found a glimmer of hope in the Art of Living Foundation.
“I went to a party that one of my professors was throwing and his daughter was very involved,” she said. “She encouraged me to try one of her programs.”
The International Association for Human Values, formerly known as the Art of Living Foundation, is an international organization that, according to its website, specializes in meditation classes, breathing techniques, and wisdom teaching to help participants find peace within themselves and in society .
“I remember feeling so much better afterwards,” said Klimpel. “I just couldn’t believe it. It gave me a lot of clarity and peace that I hadn’t felt in a long time. “
She said it was this clarity and peace that got her out of the darkest moments of her life, and after becoming an academic advisor, she felt obliged to share this with her students.
“I knew the Art of Living Foundation programs could help them because they helped me,” said Klimpel. “I thought if I became a teacher I could make it more accessible to students with difficulty.”
In 2015, Klimpel embarked on the process of becoming a certified Art of Living Instructor and, in collaboration with Columbus’ Art of Living branch, began offering retreats on campus multiple times throughout the school year.
The YesPlus program is a weekend retreat with almost 20 hours of classes and emphasizes the foundation’s basic breathing technique, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga.
In addition to offering the retreat, Klimpel and other members of the International Association of Human Values negotiated with the state of Ohio and received funding from the student activity fee to cover over 90 percent of the program cost.
“Almost a hundred students go through the program each semester, all reporting increased well-being thereafter,” said Prashant Serai, a graduate student studying computer science and engineering and treasurer of the OSU chapter of the International Association of Human Values, known as the YesPlus Club.
Klimpel said that she is inspired when students come through the program from dark ages.
“Peace begins with the empowerment of the individual,” she said. “If we can get one person out of the dark, they can illuminate millions.”
The YesPlus retreat takes place on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the North Rec Center. The cost for students is $ 15. Registration via artofliving.org is required.
Correction February 16: In an earlier version of this article, the name Sathya Dev was misspelled. Prashant Serai is not the president of the YesPlus club, but the treasurer. The article has also been changed to reflect the Art of Living Foundation’s name change.