Project Update: Mindful Community
By Andy Housiaux
The fall of 2016 was a time of growth and development for the Mindful Community project. A group of a dozen students met weekly throughout the fall term to study mindfulness in depth, following the curriculum of Mindful Schools. In addition, a regular community of students came to the drop-in sessions at the Tang Institute. These two projects continued from the fall, and continue to be ways to engage PA students with mindfulness.
In addition to these events, PA students have connected with mindfulness in different areas of their lives here at PA. During leadership training in the fall, captains and proctors learned about mindfulness. Community Engagement program heads had a similar introduction, and several Sunday Wellness sessions at the Sykes Center have also been well-received.
A particular highlight was a fall collaboration with the Girls Varsity Soccer (GVS) team. Each Monday, GVS would practice mindfulness (or heartfulness) during the last 15 minutes of practice.
The faculty and staff groups have continued as well, meeting at 8 a.m. and noon. These groups draw adults from across campus—OAR, administrative assistants, CCO, faculty—and bring together a kind of faculty-staff conversation that can be hard to come by at PA.
We have also worked with the adults in the Dean of Students Office, meeting with them each week to practice mindfulness. They immediately saw deep parallels between their own work and the ways in which mindfulness practice can help individuals pause and respond instead of reacting impulsively.
In addition to this work on campus, twelve of us—students, staff, faculty, and emeriti—went to a day-long event on heartfulness meditation at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center in October. We had a wonderful Indian meal in the middle of the day and had the opportunity to hear teachings from Narayan Leibenson, a longtime meditation teacher in Cambridge. (Last year, students twice went to Cambridge to attend beginner’s teachings by Narayan, and she also came up to campus to speak to students about her experiences on a meditation retreat at Auschwitz.)
In February, Alison Cohen will visit campus for three days. Alison is a former high school English teacher in New York City who now works full time teaching mindfulness, both to teachers and students. She will work with a range of people on campus, including a lunch on February 23 at 1 p.m. Stay tuned for more updates as our work continues to grow!