Mindfulness for Graduate Students

The primary purpose of this course is to support students by helping them develop some of the general cognitive and affective abilities that will benefit them throughout their graduate work, and throughout their daily personal and professional lives. These skills include the ability to focus, sustain, and shift one’s attention, to be at once alert and relaxed, and to handle internal distractors like performance anxiety and self-criticism, building these abilities through practice at simply paying attention in the present moment on purpose and non-judgmentally.

The course is not about performing, but simply experiencing. There will be no tests, and the grade is a simple participation-based pass/no pass. Classes will consist of guided mindfulness meditation and discussion. With concentration on the breath, you will learn to focus your attention and develop awareness of your own sensations, thoughts and emotions as they occur, with an attitude of compassion for yourself and for others.

Outside of class, you will be asked to practice on your own 10+ minutes a day, and invited to read research and other articles on the foundations, mechanisms and neuroscience of mindfulness—how it is that the mind can and does change the brain through intentional awareness and acceptance. Class hours include one half-day retreat at Asilomar Conference Center on Saturday September 30 from 12:00-4:00 pm.

Mindfulness creates space for insight, fosters a sense of connectedness, and cultivates general wellbeing. In recent decades, Western science has empirically found, for instance, that mindfulness can decrease blood-pressure, cholesterol, cortisol (stress hormone) levels, anxiety and depression, while enhancing immune system functioning, resilience, coping skills, communication, quality of relationships, self-awareness, and self-trust.

By enrolling in this course, you will also be contributing to empirical research on the effects of such mindfulness. For this reason, you will be asked to sign a consent form agreeing that data collected from you during the course (brief surveys, a final reflection, focus-group discussion), included under a pseudonym if you prefer, may be used for research purposes.

4:00pm-5:50pm on Thursday (Aug 27, 2018 to Oct 4, 2018)
McGowan MG215