Faculty try to be more mindful

Monday, November 17, 2014

By Matt Pellegrini

Special to The Communitarian

More than 15 faculty members attended a class on mindfulness Oct. 20 at the Marple campus. Francesco Bellini, an assistant professor of religion, organized the event in the STEM building’s aerobics room.

According to Bellini’s presentation, mindfulness is not magic, therapy, religion, a cause for more stress, or a relaxation technique. Instead, it is a way to deal with stress, fear, difficult students, collegiality, and institutional effectiveness. Bellini said it can be practiced anytime and anywhere.

The class focused on exercises and techniques to utilize in the classroom or one’spersonallife. Participantsperformed breathing exercises with eyes closed and ate lunch while mindfully focusing on their food.

“Mindfulness means to be aware of what is happening in our present experience, observing with compassion and curiosity,” said Bellini.

Tanya Gardner, an assistant professor of communications, said her students benefitted from mindfulness techniques in the classroom. Her students performed exercises to remain in the present moment, such as quietly sitting and reflecting at the start of class. Students also walked quietly and observed their surroundings.

Gardner said the students’ attentiveness and peacefulness improved as a result.

DCCC student, Amanda Howard, spoke about her personal successes with mindfulness. She said mindfulness helped her to manage emotions, decrease anxiety, deal with the pressures of daily life, and improve memory problems. Mindfulness allows her to create a more positive environment in general, she added.

Kristen Doran, a professor of psychology, said she also uses mindfulnessin her classes. She admitted that she was not an expert in mindfulness, but suggested that participants do not need to be experts to benefit from it.

Associate English Professor Tanya Franklin was another participant who felt the mindfulness training was beneficial to teaching.

“I truly enjoy teaching and interacting with students and am always looking for ways to improve the learning environment,” Franklin said. “Taking the mindfulness workshop will help me to create a positive and stimulating setting for my students and for me.”

By Matt Pellegrini

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