Introduction to Mindful Pedagogy
Mindful pedagogy facilitates holistic learning, and can be integrated into in-person and online teaching. Instructors and students engage in contemplative inquiry practices that encourage self-reflection, decrease bias, cultivate compassion, inspire creativity and open-mindedness, and foster ethical and engaged action in the world.
There are many approaches to fostering mindfulness and relational ways of being in your teaching practice (and personal life). This is a short introduction to mindful pedagogy, designed to spark your curiosity about the subject. We are a diverse group of contributors who are learning together how to apply concepts of mindfulness to critical digital pedagogy. Creating this resource in a week was a challenge for us: part of being mindful is slowing down, reflecting, and focusing on process instead of product. The demands of the course in which we created this material entailed that we make it a static digital resource, but mindful pedagogy is anything but static. We encourage you to take your time exploring the topics mentioned here and to find communities (in person and online) in which to practice, reflect, and continue learning.
Mindfulness in the Classroom
In the words of bell hooks, quoted on our home page: “To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.” How can we bring this type of care into our classrooms and online learning environments? Mindfulness can help you engage in open and respectful dialogue, combat racial bias, promote intercultural communication, and facilitate nonviolent communication. Mindfulness can allow instructors to have a more authentic connection with students’ needs and to figure out together the ways for meeting them. Presence–showing up fully and holding space for students–is an important part of mindful pedagogy. How are you incorporating this type of care into the learning process?
Instructors have been exploring how to integrate mindfulness-based activities into college classrooms, including online classes. It’s important to make sure mindfulness-based activities are inclusive and accessible. This includes bringing trauma-informed principles to mindfulness activities.
- Check out CMind’s Contemplative Education webinars. Choose a webinar that you find relevant. Watch the webinar and journal about what you learned. Then consider posting your writing as a comment, or in your choice of social media. What feelings come up for you as you translate your personal writing into an online post? How does the mode you’re writing in change what you say and how you feel about the topic?
- Choose a webinar from the same list on a topic that you’re unfamiliar with. Notice the thoughts and emotions that you have when thinking about the topic. Watch the webinar. Reflect: What did you learn? Did you gain new perspectives? If so, how?
Building Your Own Mindfulness Practices
In order to practice mindful pedagogy, it’s important to build your own mindfulness practice. There are many online mindfulness meditation resources. If possible, try going to an in-person mindfulness class or drop-in mindfulness meditation session. Compare the experience of meditating in an in-person group to meditating using online resources. What do you notice?
There’s an emerging field focused on mindfulness and technology. Bringing mindfulness to technology can include being mindful of how your use of technology is impacting you personally, as well as bringing mindfulness to how tech is designed to interact with human psychology.
- Take a look at these suggestions for bringing mindfulness to your use of technology. Try implementing one or more of the suggestions. Mindfully reflect on what you notice. How can you encourage students to mindfully reflect on their use of technology?
- What does it mean to find balance? Here’s a quick mindful movement practice that invites you to think about balance experientially: Stand (or sit, or otherwise position your body) in a way that feels balanced. Then, shift your weight to one side: notice how it feels when you’re not in balance, and then notice how it feels to bring yourself back into balance. Balance isn’t static; it’s a process of continual readjustment. Becoming aware of when you’re not in balance allows you to be intentional about what you want to next.
- What does it mean to balance issues of critical digital pedagogy? Try bringing mindfulness to how you relate to openness, ethics, participation, and institutional power. Notice, without judgment, where you feel balance or a lack of balance in relation to these topics. What are your intentions in each area? How could you make adjustments that encourage you to grow? Have a conversation about one of the topics with someone who is also interested in critical pedagogy.
- Beth Berila, Integrating Mindfulness Into Anti-oppression Pedagogy: Social Justice in Higher Education
- Daniel P. Barbezat and Mirabai Bush, Contemplative Practices in Higher Education: Powerful Methods to Transform Teaching and Learning
- Susan Burggraf and Peter Grossenbacher, “Contemplative Modes of Inquiry in Liberal Arts Education”
- Leigh Burrows, Safeguarding Mindfulness in Schools and Higher Education: A Holistic and Inclusive Approach
- The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
- Center for Humane Technology
- Nancy Chick, “Mindfulness in the Classroom”
- Edited by Leila Monaghan, Jane E. Goodman, and Jennifer Meta Robinson, A Cultural Approach to Interpersonal Communication: Essential Readings
- Rhonda Magee, “How Mindfulness Can Defeat Racial Bias”
- Richie Neil Hao, “Critical compassionate pedagogy and the teacher’s role in first‐generation student success”
- Daniel Rechtschaffen, The Way of Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-Being in Teachers and Students
- Edited by Linda A. Sanders, Contemplative Studies in Higher Education: New Directions for Teaching and Learning
- Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education
- David C. Thomas and Inkson C. Kerr, Cultural Intelligence: Surviving and Thriving in the Global Village
- David A. Treleaven, Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing
- UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
Linda Watts, “Mindfulness in higher education”