26-year-old singer and songwriter Raveena graced the screens of dozens of UCR students on Wednesday, Feb. 3 for Associated Student Program Board’s (ASPB) “Mindfulness and Meditation with Raveena.” In this 1 1/2-hour-long event, the R&B and indie soul artist guided the attendees through a 30-minute meditation and affirmation session, which she followed with a performance of some of her most popular songs and a Q&A.
ASPB opened the event by announcing the giveaway prizes attendees had a chance to win, which included merchandise for the event and an annual Calm subscription while students flooded the chat with excited remarks about wanting to de-stress. Raveena appeared in a simple white room, wearing her signature eccentric earrings and exuding a peaceful presence. She explained that she had begun her journey into meditation and mindfulness earlier this year when she was going through a depressive episode that compelled her to make a change in her life.
In 30 minutes, she led the audience through a hypnotic series of affirmation and requests; during this time, the chat was disabled. Raveena closed her eyes during the majority of this session, breathing deeply and asking the viewers to “feel this sense of warmth all around the upper half of your body … this glowing. Bringing peace to wherever attached.” This themed event is tailored for Raveena, an openly spiritual person with a delicate voice seemingly made for meditation.
Toward the end of the session, she said that she had repeated the following affirmation to herself daily: “I am loved and the world reflects that love.” Wind chimes in the background coupled with the faint echo of her microphone suited her ethereal voice perfectly. Listening to her instructions and watching her serene smile was a perfect way for students to spend a Thursday evening relaxing. She assured the audience that the space that they had created together was “completely safe” before ending this part of the event with a few cleansing breaths.
To my delighted surprise, Raveena then launched into an acoustic performance of some of her most popular songs. She was joined by Aaron Liao, who she claimed was her songwriting partner, to accompany her on the guitar as she launched into the romantic, hazy “Headaches.” The chat was blown up with excited cries and decrees of love for Raveena, who continued with “Close 2 U,” a song she explained was about the sweet ending of a relationship that has to end because of distance. She danced along to “Honey” and followed it with her angelic voice softly singing “Spoonful of sugar / My cup is fuller when you’re there.” Raveena’s discography is mostly composed of romance tunes and a soft piano or guitar, which Hannah Chung, an attendee and marketing chair for ASPB, said is “calm and soothing which really catered to a lot of students … her soft presence and angelic tunes really brought a lot of comfort to a lot of the anxiety many of us students are experiencing.”
The final portion, a Q&A with Raveena, felt more like an intimate chat with a close friend than a public interview with a celebrity. The questions were introspective and profound; one student asked about how to stay grounded in times of high emotion while another asked how to navigate the loneliness of a spiritual journey. There was an incident in which the wrong student was allowed to ask a question that broke the seriousness of the audience and Raveena into giggles — the student animatedly exclaimed that he was honored to speak to Raveena but was actually from UC Berkeley. This funny moment showcases how Raveena’s influence is spread widely, as she attracts fans from all over.
The Q&A was brought down to a vulnerable level afterwards as Raveena contemplated that love and heartbreak inspired her work. “Love is a powerful force in my life,” she said, “having to be a being of suffering is to be fully alive. I want to feel the whole range of emotions.”
One of the final questions was asked by Chung, who asked Raveena about how people can stay respectful of spiritual practices in this new age of spirituality. Raveena took a moment to think, encouraging the novelty of spirituality while noting that understanding the distinction between cultures and its different connections to spirituality was significant. “She does an amazing job of incorporating and weaving who she is, what she believes in and her culture into her music and the energy she gives to people. I think students really appreciated ASPB bringing a really known, relatable and not to mention, POC artist,” said Chung.
ASPB’s next event is the Winter Film Festival on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m.