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PACS Faculty Member Recognized During International Women’s Day

Pooja Shrivastava

PACS Faculty Member Recognized During International Women’s Day

March 13, 2024

by Michael Mahaffey

Pooja Shrivastava, Ph.D., was honored by the University of Oklahoma on Friday, March 8, during OU’s International Women’s Day Luncheon. She was recognized for her volunteer efforts to foster a culture of wellness by offering weekly meditations and SKY Campus Happiness Retreats with the LiveWell OU program.

The event, sponsored by the OU Division of Access and Opportunity and hosted at the OU Health Sciences Center Student Union, centered around inspiring inclusion and fostering healthy individuals and communities.

Shrivastava, associate professor and program lead for the online integrative studies bachelor’s degree completion program in OU’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies, said she was honored to be recognized for leadership in facilitating meditation courses and teaching SKY Happiness Retreats for the students, faculty and staff of all three OU campuses.

“Genuine inclusion can only be accomplished when people and communities are relieved of worry and tension,” she said. “This acknowledgment underscores the importance of wellness initiatives and in creating a thriving campus community.”

Shrivastava, who has been practicing meditation for 23 years and has been a 1,000-hour certified International Association for Human Values instructor for 16 years, introduced her unique workshops during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, there was such stress, and people were dying,” she said. “I felt deeply pained and couldn't bear the misery, so I decided to contact LiveWell OU. I was willing to volunteer and share the knowledge of practicing breathwork and meditation with others who might need it.”

LiveWell OU has aired her live, online 20-minute guided meditations, "Happiness Reconnect," on Tuesday and Friday each week since 2020. These sessions help the minds of participants meaningfully relax, allowing them to be more calm, peaceful and productive.

Shrivastava said around 4,000 people have attended one of her meditation sessions within all three OU campuses since they began.

“People join the 20-minute guided meditations from their office spaces,” she said. “They don’t have to sit on the floor with a yoga mat. They just shut their eyes. I take care of the rest because the instructions are so defined and refined. After 20 minutes, most people find a relaxed state of mind with heightened focus and concentration.”

The Sky Campus Happiness Program is one of the flagship programs of its kind in the U.S. and is hosted by over 120 campuses. The SKY Campus Happiness Retreats are a comprehensive bio-psycho-sociological program tailored for the university population and taught over three consecutive days in three 2.5- to 3-hour sessions both on campus and online. Shrivastava co-teaches the full workshops with Dinesh Nath, Ph.D., to empower attendees to take control of their well-being through evidence-based breathwork, meditation and nuggets of self-knowledge entailing body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and self.

“During the retreat, participants learn evidence-based breath work and meditation, along with some light yoga and positive leadership,” she said. ”Following these techniques, participants have shown reduced anxiety and depression, significantly lower stress markers, increased well-being, focus, and concentration, improved sleep, and heightened optimism and social connection.”

Being recognized by the university has motivated Shrivastava to redouble her efforts to help create a happier and healthier OU community.

"I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to contribute," she said. “LiveWell OU has supported my initiative in highlighting these workshops as part of creating a thriving campus community. This shows the university's commitment to providing the best possible means of caring for mental, physical, and emotional well-being. I am grateful to my teacher, Sri Sri Ravishankar, for teaching me such powerful tools.

“I want to dedicate this honor to my college, Dean Gregg Garn and the university. I’m incredibly thankful to the OU Division of Access and Opportunity for the International Women’s Day spotlight nomination.”

To register for Shrivastava’s guided meditation courses or to learn more about other wellness programs available to all OU students, faculty and staff, visit the LiveWell OU website.