Finding meaning in words

During the “Exploring the Impact of Contemplative Practices on Self and Students” retreat last week at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute — which, incidentally, was a fabulous space for the retreat — faculty from GVSU and FSU worked together to gain consensus on the meanings of couple of words. I provide here a few of the definitions of “mindfulness” that were proposed:

>> Non-attached;
>> Attention and awareness to the present moment without judgment;
>> Full awareness of the present moment;
>> Paying attention in the present moment without judgment; and
>> Deliberate awareness of the moment without judgment.

And here’s a little lagniappe:

Mindfulness image
From: Doug Neill

Mindfulness quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn
From: psychalive.org (Here’s an interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn)

At the Withered Tree

We held our final session of the “Exploring the Intersections of Mindfulness, Contemplative Practices, and Reflective Teaching” on Saturday, May 4.  It was a beautiful Spring day in Eastown, Grand Rapids, where we met at the Withered Tree 

Our sincere thanks to Karen for sharing the space with us! Thanks, too, to Clare and Carol for leading the contemplative practices for the group. The conversation, naturally, was rich, engaging, and thoughtful. A few videos and an upcoming event were mentioned during the conversation. I provide links here to those things:

Andy Puddicombe’s “All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes,” filmed in November 2012 at TEDSalon London

Jill Bolte Taylor’s “The Neuroanatomical Transformation of the Teenage Brain,” filmed at the TEDxYouth@Indianapolis and published online in February 2013.

An upcoming webinar: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 3-4 PM (EST), “Improvisation, Meditation, and Integral Theory: New Horizons in Contemplative Education,” with Ed Sarath, Professor of Music in the Department in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and Director of U-M’s Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies. The webinar is made possible by the The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.

This just crossed my electronic path: The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry. The Call for Submissions has been announced!

The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal for all those who design, research, teach, and assess contemplative and introspective methods and practices in college and university settings. Contemplative and introspective practices cultivate a critical, first-person focus and create new opportunities for students to engage with course material. The Journal promotes the understanding, development, and application of these methods in order to serve a vision of higher education as an opportunity for cultivating personal and social awareness and an exploration of meaning, purpose and values.

My thanks again to everyone who was present on Saturday for our last meeting together this semester; thank you for making time and contributing to the experience.

Plugging in, again

I’ve been out of the work loop for several days and, consequently, this blog. I am looking forward to catching up and plugging in again to our work together.

Speaking of plugging in, I’m plugging into the interweb again, having been (mostly) away from e-mail, social media, and cell phone service. Not surprisingly, that took some getting used to. At times, it made me restless and (more!) impatient; I imagined I was missing out on something and even wasting time. I realized that just sitting or being with all that was enough; I breathed and watched patiently.

As I look ahead to tomorrow, I wanted to share with you links to some of the measurement instruments that are mentioned in the paper by Yamada and Victor (2012). I look forward to reconnecting with everyone this week.

Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory

Self-Compassion Scale

Rumination-Reflection Questionnaire

Perceived Stress Scale

State Trait Anxiety Inventory: Google “State Trait Anxiety Inventory form”

Being doesn’t come easily

In my explorations of mindfulness and other contemplative practices, I’ve made small, very small steps in learning how to pay attention to the present — to what’s here at this moment — without judgment.  This often requires a shift from doing to being, a shift that, as the title of this post indicates, isn’t easy to make.  But I continue to practice.

Various writers and thinkers have made this practice easier.  I had in mind one writer — Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn — when I was writing the “Making Connections” post last week.  I spent some time early this morning listening to an interview with Jon that had sat on my to-do list for several weeks. If you have an hour, I recommend the interview that Krista Tippett did with Jon titled, “Opening to Our Lives: Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Science of Mindfulness.” 

To learn more about some of Jon’s work, check out the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, which Jon founded in 1995 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Making Connections

We start our series of second sessions tomorrow in Grand Rapids and Big Rapids. We have face-to-face sessions in each location; you can also join the BR sessions by conference call.  We hope you can connect to one or more of the sessions!

I’m grateful that we are working together on this — I’m meeting new people, and having new and rich conversations with my colleagues.  Just yesterday, I shared a short hour with a colleague here at FSU.  We talked some about what drew us to mindfulness and we learned about writers who have influenced us.  And, we discovered we each subscribe to a new magazine called (surprise!), Mindful.

Naturally, the magazine has a presence on the interweb and in social media.  Check it out, when you have a minute.

I look forward to connecting with you in sessions this week.

Similarity and a favorite line

Not surprisingly, the two papers we will be discussing this week share at least one idea in common.  In “Teaching Midnfulness at a Public University” (Lee, 2012), the idea is expressed as “inner experience.”  In Hart’s (2004), “Opening the Contemplative Mind in the Classroom,” this idea is referred to as an “inner technology.”  Later, he also uses the word “mindscience.”   Reading “mindscience” reminded me of a book with this title [MindScience: An East-West Dialogue (1999)] and research efforts in this area [e.g., the Mind Science Foundation; the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona (which began with funding from our state’s very own Fetzer Institute!)].

About that favorite line of mine?  It comes from Hart’s (2004) “Opening the Contemplative Mind in the Classroom” and reads:

The cardinal aspect of contemplative practice is nourishing the quality of one’s attention. (pg. 32)