Practices to support bringing awareness to the present moment.
Applying mindfulness practices into an educational context helps to create a quality of grounded presence, fostering empathy and compassion. Mindfulness supports the cultivation of personal sustainability and connects us to the bigger picture, i.e. becoming aware of the interdependence, impacting how we respond and the choices we make on a daily basis in support of others and the planet. For example the impact of the food I’m eating on the planet or the products I’m buying on the lives’ of others, etc.
During a week-long residential course, we introduced a daily mindfulness practice. Every morning we dedicated thirty minutes to share another practice, including guided sitting meditation, mindful walking, mindful movement, mindful eating or loving-kindness meditation. Most of these were inspired by Plum Village tradition, as introduced by Thich Nhat Hanh. We created a safe space and encouraged the attitudes of openness, curiosity and non-judgement towards one’s individual experience.
Note: There are many teachers and practices out there, so it’s important you share the ones in which you’ve developed a strong practice yourself.
Lunch-time mindful eating practice. Or one mindfulness-related practice during the course. Guided practice might be helpful – you can find guided meditations on the podcast section.
Dedicating a full day at the beginning of the course to experience mindfulness through a variety of practices.
Guided mindfulness meditations work well online. If on zoom – people may turn their cameras off to create a sense of intimacy.
Practicing focused awareness can be challenging for participants as we may not be used to being still, silent or focused. Some may find it boring or challenging, so make sure you have your own mindfulness/meditation practice and create safe space where people do not feel judged. While introducing the practices reassure participants that it is a common experience if they didn’t practice meditation before. Sometimes people understand meditation’s goal as having ‘no thoughts’. Mindfulness is about bringing awareness to what’s happening, including our thoughts, not a struggle to ‘empty the mind’.
“Mindfulness is the continuous practice of touching deeply every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly present with your body and your mind, to bring harmony to your intentions and actions, and to be in harmony with those around you.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth
Mindfulness as a practice has a history of more than 2500 years and can be found in one way or another in all major religions. The most influential source for today’s practice and understanding of mindfulness can be found in Buddhism.
The secular movement around it started in the 1970ies with the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn.
The most widely-spread definitions are:
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