Contemplative Mind Compassion and Interdependence Webinar Follow Up
Dear CMind Webinar participant,
Thank you for being part of Drs. Majied and Mamgain’s dialogue on August 23,2019 on Interdependence and Self-Compassion. You may have noticed that we did not speak solely or specifically about being a college or university staff, student or faculty member. This was intentional as our goal is to release the “persona”, the mask, that colonized education has forced educators and students to adapt and to cultivate the “personhood” of us all, the aspect of every person that is always learning and teaching whether in a formal education environment or not. It is this interdependent compassionate personhood that we believe is the foundation and goal of contemplative pedagogy.
Thus, we did not speak as if the audience was predominantly professors, even though we know that is often the case with ACMHE events. We wanted to speak to you all as people cultivating our shared humanity because we want to help faculty reclaim being people in the Academy.
Through this process of reclaiming our humanity we can then begin to humanize our classrooms and our academic institutions using the perspectives and practices related to compassion and interdependence we discussed.
That said, here are a few specific areas where you might continue to use compassion and interdependent contemplative approaches in the classroom and in your institutions.
- Begin with arrival, welcome, and gratitude meditations that ground you and your students in connectedness and interdependence thus allowing them to experience some compassion for themselves and for each other. This is an excellent way to begin a class, faculty meeting, symposia, colloquia, etc.
- Develop syllabi in communication with at least one former or present student. Let syllabi be living contemplative documents.
Other specific suggestions include the following steps:
- Be transparent about what are you asking them to do – It is fair to students if we list contemplative practices in the syllabus. Interdependence implies dynamism so as educators we offer students the opportunity to communicate privately about their ability to participate and offer them alternatives. Consult with the student support resources on your campus to ensure that the practices are accessible to all students.
- Be transparent about why – Give students some explanation about why you are asking them to do the practice. This allows us as educators to refine our “intention.” It also creates an opening for ourselves to explore trauma informed mindfulness practices and see if those might be a more appropriate alternative for some students.
- Contemplate how you will assess/ give feedback. If we do step i) and ii) then iii) becomes simpler. Strong boundaries are helpful. For instance, we let students know that we do not want to know the “content” of their mindfulness practices – that we appreciate consistency and effort, that our intention is for them to develop an awareness of their minds/relationship to their decisions. The notion of grading contemplative practice is a bit paradoxical – many years ago The Onion had a piece about “The Best Yogi Ever!” that cracked us up. Our current practice is to invite students to do these practices with integrity – to engage as well as they can; if students excuse themselves from doing any contemplative work we let them know that their entire grade depends on work based on the academic text, materials and assignments.
The above summary is drawn from Joyfully Just- Practices to Liberate Meditation, our book- in progress. Hence, we ask that you inform us and cite both Drs. Mamgain and Majied if you wish to reprint any of the information here or from our Webinar. Too often the work of Black, Asian, Latinx and Indigenous People is appropriated and we trust that you do not want to be a part of that injustice!
As the book approaches completion, there will be more to come on this joyfullyjust.com website about using compassion and interdependence throughout the teaching and learning dynamic and how to use boundaries as part of the contemplative education process and practice. We will also be discussing how we reiteratively muster the courage to share the power that we often hold exclusively as professors in the classroom in order to experience more freedom and joy. Additionally, we will be discussing how to connect contemplative practice and social and environmental justice to joy in the classroom. We believe we all can access the courage to share institutional power so that we experience our inherent power and the power unleashed in a learning dynamic freed of hierarchies. This is how we access all the freedom in the universe-sity.
We’ll be in touch soon with more updates and thank your commitment to being Joyfully Just!