Peace of mind, self-control, mental discipline, self-empowerment and self-awareness are all being taught at the School of Metaphysics in Columbia.
Most people think of MU when considering Columbia’s education opportunities. But few people might know there are alternative opportunities in Columbia to expand one’s knowledge of the self. Classes at the School of Metaphysics are one such option, according to the school’s teachers.
The school has operated in Columbia since 1974. Classes are held throughout the week, and mental exercises are offered to strengthen one’s consciousness. The school’s teachers and students explained why they think the school is beneficial.
Carrie Collins, director and teacher, said the School of Metaphysics is not itself a religion, but can connect students with a higher source, or God, through spiritual exercises and meditation.
“You learn how to use your whole mind,” Collins said. The school is unique because everyone who comes has their own spiritual experiences, she said, and people discover higher levels of reality on their own via personal realization.
Attendance varies, Collins said, but there are usually between 10 and 30 people at the evening classes. Sessions begin with students contemplating their goal for the day’s class. Assignments are turned in and questions are discussed. The teacher then begins explaining the week’s lesson and demonstrates any mental exercises.
Some of the exercises include students sitting before a candle and concentrating on the flame. Whenever thoughts cross their minds, they make a mark on paper. This is to make a physical acknowledgement that the mind has wandered, and helps students to redirect their attention. The exercise can quiet the mind and help one change negative thoughts into positive thoughts, Collins said.
Another exercise involves the student looking in a mirror for about 10 minutes. The mind becomes focused on the self, Collins said, and a person begins to see him or herself in a new perspective.
The school offers four cycles of lessons. There are 24 lessons per cycle, Collins said, and students receive doctorate degrees at the end of cycles three and four.
“It’s pretty scientific in the way that it’s taught,” she said.
Students at the school said they enjoy the classes and atmosphere because of the numerous benefits they reap.
“The best thing I’ve got out of it so far is the level of self-control,” said Luke Mulderink, who has been attending for about two years. He was never extremely religious when growing up, he said, but through the exercises and studies he has actually experienced spirituality.
Anthony Flanagan, another student, has been attending the school for about three months. He said he enjoys the good company.
“Everybody’s sweet, they’re good, loving people,” Flanagan said. “It’s just a really good place to get knowledge that helps me in my daily life.”
Flanagan, a recovering alcoholic, said he unsuccessfully tried for many years to satisfy himself with destructive, outside stimulants. But he now understands that he is not separate from God, he said.
“I’m seeking the truth, and that’s what I’m getting here,” he said. “I know it’s right.”
Books that students read include works such as Koran, I Ching, Omni Perception, Beyond Within, Planets in Locality and The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ.
“We teach the universals of all religions,” Collins said, and the classes and teachings are meant for all people regardless of creed.
“It helps them to have a better connection with whoever or whatever they call God,” she said. Collins said the school offers something for everyone, atheists included.
“Our goal is to enable any individual to become a whole, functioning self,” she said.
Collins has been teaching at the School of Metaphysics for over four years, and has been teaching at the Columbia branch for two years.
“When I first came to the class, I was looking for answers,” she said, “and I received a lot of those answers without a doubt.”
Members of the Columbia school are preparing to travel on Oct. 11 to Windyville for the dedication of the Peace Dome, a project organized by the School of Metaphysics. The dome’s construction is intended to inspire people around the world to strive for peace. The Peace Dome is a building used for classes, gatherings, and services.
The School of Metaphysics in Columbia is located at 103 W. Broadway. All faculty are volunteers, and the school is a not-for-profit educational organization with 15 centers in the Midwest.