Campus Culture

Mindfulness for Faculty

Want to learn more about mindfulness? Join CETLS at our upcoming sessions: Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices in the Classroom (March 19, 12 pm – 1:30 pm) and Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices as Part of a Culture of Care (April 11, 12 pm – 1:30 pm).

 

The “Mindful Expansion”

We are in the midst of the “Mindful Expansion.” This once “alternative” practice is now mainstream. Mindfulness has made its way onto the cover of Scientific American Magazine, Psychologies, Newsweek, and Time Magazine (twice). Despite this rapid rise in popularity, or perhaps because of it, mindfulness is often dismissed as another passing trend. There is an established movement to prove the value mindfulness in various contexts. With the publication of over 1,800 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles showing the benefits of mindfulness in 2018 alone, I can assure you that there is more to this trend than just marketing.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly mindfulness is, how to practice it, what the benefits are, and some simple tips on getting started.

Mindfulness Defined

The word practice is essential to our understanding of mindfulness. There is no end goal or box to check when it comes to mindfulness; rather, mindfulness is the continual practice of paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. If you’ve been harboring any notions of an enlightened yogi meditating on a mountaintop, it may be best to dispense of those now. Mindfulness is in the realm of the ordinary. It is reflected in the level of focus, attention, and awareness we bring to our daily interactions with our self, others, and the world around us.

Viktor Frankl, neurologist and psychiatrist, describes mindfulness beautifully:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.

When we develop our capacity to direct our attention, without judgment, to the present moment we find this space between something outside ourselves and our reaction – at first that space is as small as the gap between thoughts, or as simple as a deep breath. Over time, it becomes a space that teacher and student can observe together. From this space, we move from a place of reacting to a stance of empowerment, choice, and freedom.

Mindfulness In the Classroom

In my classroom, we spend between 1 and 3 minutes on mindful practice. This allows plenty of time for course content and activities related to teaching the material at hand. The ultra-brief method is showing promising results for educational outcomes as well as mediating a decrease in mindfulness over the course of the semester.

Next time, I’ll discuss how you can bring mindfulness to the classroom with a few examples and exercises. In the meantime, please reach out to me and connect about research, collaborations, and discussions.

References

Frankl, V., & Lasch, I. (1946). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. London: Hodder & Stoughton

 

4 Responses to Mindfulness for Faculty

  1. Rifat Salam, Social Sciences April 11, 2019 at 11:06 am #

    While I am generally in favor of the basic idea, I think it’s important that we think about what happens when we take contemplative practices and divorce them from their cultural and ethical bases. It’s also important to give faculty a broader understanding of contemplative practice versus mindfulness = meditation which not everyone is necessarily comfortable with employing in the classroom. As someone who has been aware of/taught such practices in childhood and incorporated aspects of contemplative practices in my teaching since the late 1990s, I am pleased that there is now interest at our institution but I do hope that we can broader the notion of contemplative practice in the college setting beyond the instrumental and individualistic functions. We need to infuse our efforts at contemplative teaching to include ethics, compassion and ideas of collective good.

  2. catherine mbewe April 9, 2019 at 5:16 pm #

    I know that this is an old post. However, I felt the need to post becase this sentence struck me “…mindfulness is the continual practice of paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment.” I really love that. Often times, I think we are rushing to be anywhere but where we are. I have done 10 day Vippassana retreats, so, I am not new to meditation and mindfulness concepts.

    I have been struggling to find a way to bring mindfulness into my classroom. I would love to hear your suggestions and any research ideas that I may be able to try out. I teach senior level nursing students who are always stressed. I will try to make your next event on the 11th.

  3. Radhi Majmudar March 19, 2019 at 10:28 pm #

    Hi Dr. Snipes, I came across this in the Journal of Business Venturing, published January 2019. The article is called “Close your eyes or open your mind: Effects of sleep and mindfulness exercises on entrepreneurs’ exhaustion” Seems related to your research.

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