Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, 2

Contemplation means creating a space in which "to observe & gain insight. Introspection is looking inward, attending carefully to what is occurring within" (21). Meditation "attempts to deepen & enrich experience & meaning" by way of "a deep focus & the intention of developing insight" (22). It results in "significant gains in attention & self-regulation even after short periods (as few as 5 days)" &:
  • increased concentration & attention
  • increased mental health & psychological well-being
  • increased connection, generosity, & loving kindness
  • deepened understanding
  • increased creativity & insight.
"More & more, teachers are seeking ways to focus on the whole student" (23) - seeking a holistic approach!

Contemplative practices decrease anxiety & depression, result in "an increased sense of control & decreased neuroticism" via "an increased sense of purpose in life" & result in "more antibodies after receiving a flu shot" (26-29).

One practice focuses on loving kindness - developing "well-wishing for all beings," ... "enabling them to have a more profound & empathic response to others" (30). "Training in compassion meditation lowered stress responses; ... also stimulate[s] self-compassion, ... kindness & understanding toward oneself rather than self-criticism & judgment, holding oneself as connected rather than separate & isolated, & sustaining balance with thoughts & feelings & not overidentifying with negative thoughts" (31). Increased self-compassion "had a far greater impact on ... anxiety & depression." Thus, "we should redesign learning environments & pedagogy to reap the benefits of greater self-awareness & social connection" (32).

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