BGSU student to follow meditation path to Thailand

BOWLING GREEN.—There is a deep stillness to Sam Gorman that belies his youth. Devoted to meditation and music, the Bowling Green State University sophomore from Bowling Green will pursue his interest in self-realization full time next fall at the Wat Pan Nanachat Buddhist monastery in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province.

His ability to follow what his “heart and mind deeply wish . . . to live in a community of people devoted to finding inner peace” is made possible through the Stuart R. Givens Memorial Fellowship, created by retired BGSU employees Dr. Christopher and Ellen Dalton. The fellowship provides the support for students to pursue a self-designed learning experience unavailable in a conventional classroom.

During his three months at the monastery, Gorman will follow an ascetic routine, waking daily to the 3 a.m. bell for the morning gathering and meditation. “Then the monks walk to the community to collect alms and bring them back to the monastery,” he said. The day includes two more periods of group meditation, sometimes personal instruction in English, and working and cleaning the monastery. The 4 p.m. tea is the only meal of the day.

“It’s demanding, physically and mentally, but I like the challenge,” Gorman said. “I can adapt if I need to. I’m glad it’s a rigid structure.”

A liberal studies major, Gorman became interested in meditation as a student at Bowling Green High School when he took a BGSU mindfulness class with former philosophy professor Dr. Marvin Belzer, for university credit. Intrigued, he later attended a mindfulness meditation retreat led by Belzer at Our Lady of the Pines in Fremont — an experience he will repeat this month.

Since that first experience, Gorman has avidly pursued his mindfulness quest, traveling to the San Francisco area the past two summers to study with Belzer and other teachers. “Into silence I go with other young adults, at a retreat center stitched and woven with the threads of compassion and wise living. . . . The weeklong retreat is absolutely life changing,” he wrote in his application essay.

Last summer he also spent six weeks at a monastery near Thunder Bay, Canada, where he deepened his practice and learned of Wat Pan Nanachat.

A serious musician who writes all his own music and sings, Gorman said meditation also frees his creativity and enhances his concentration. “It has the ability to enhance your creative side, activate your potential and alleviate anxiety.”

At BGSU, Gorman has been a member of the SEARCH (Students Engaged in Active, Reflective, Caring and Holistic Learning) learning community. He and friends started a weekly yoga and meditation gathering there as well as a daily meditation at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. He will soon begin living in The Common Good house on Crim Street, a community center sponsored by United Christian Fellowship and devoted to student programming.

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(Posted May 21, 2012 )