Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a non-judgemental awareness of what's happening in the present moment. It turns out that maintaining such an awareness is an extremely powerful tool: Cultivating it fosters the ability to stay focused, provides clarity about our moment by moment experience, as well as an acceptance of it. There is much recent research to support the use of mindfulness techniques for stress reduction, evidence for its positive effects on teacher efficacy and reduced burnout, increase in gray matter concentration in regions involved in learning, memory and emotional regulation, the positive correlation of those changes with psychological well-being, its effects at the molecular level, along with studies of brain activity that provide an understanding of the neural mechanisms of meditation.
In this workshop we will explore the specific benefits of mindfulness meditation for our work in research and teaching, and discuss ways to apply it. We will begin with some practice to give participants who are new to mindfulness a taste of its effect on the body-mind. We will then discuss how to incorporate mindfulness in our daily lives and how to use it to enhance teaching and research. There are many barriers towards doing that, including the fear of how it will be received by students and colleagues. Dr. Ben-Hur typically starts each of his classes with a few minutes of mindfulness meditation and has found that students are receptive and sometimes even appreciative of it. He motivates them by explaining how this practice can help them through enhanced creativity and ability to maintain their focus and well-being in the face of the challenges of college. In the past decade mindfulness has gained acceptance and is making its way into classrooms all the way from kindergarten to college. Its potential is recognized even in the corporate world, where companies like Google are making mindfulness available to their employees (see e.g. http://www.mindful.org/google-searches/). Closer to home, Colorado State University has recently approved the formation of a "Center for Mindfulness" that Dr. Ben-Hur is engaged with.
Dr. Ben-Hur is an associate professor at the department of computer science. He has studied meditation with Shinzen Young and has done teacher training in his Basic Mindfulness system (see http://www.basicmindfulness.org/). He teaches mediation workshops, incorporates meditation into the courses he teaches, and holds a weekly meditation group on campus.
Goals and Target Audience:
The target audience is educators and researchers on campus who are interested in using mindfulness meditation in their work.