Faculty and staff can learn how to ignore the nagging voice in their head and better appreciate the moment by participating in mindfulness trainings being offered regularly throughout the spring semester.
The practice sessions are organized and run by Trymaine Gaither, special assistant to the provost for inclusive excellence and a Brown University-trained expert in mindfulness-based stress reduction.
Gaither hosts a 30-minute Zoom/drop-in class from 1 p.m.-1:30 p.m. every Monday to give faculty and staff a chance to practice mindfulness meditation with others.
He also hosts a 90-minute Mindfulness Made Simple training from 12:15-1:45 p.m. the first Friday of each month. The longer session is designed for WSU community members interested in taking a deeper dive into the practical implementation of mindfulness meditation rather than just developing a conceptual understanding.
More information about both trainings is available on the Office of the Provost’s engagement and self-care webpage.
“Just five minutes of formal mindfulness practice a day can improve concentration, awareness, and our response to stress,” Gaither said. “For me personally, practicing mindfulness has taught me how to shift my focus to the present moment when I notice I’m distracted or ruminating about something from the past.”
For decades, researchers and healthcare professionals have touted the physical and mental benefits of mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga. More recently, experts at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University and elsewhere have shown practicing mindfulness can also make people more empathetic and understanding of others in their community.
Gaither designed the curriculum for the Mindfulness-Based Anti-Racism (MBAR) Communities development series to do just that.
The three-part faculty training uses a research-based, secular approach to mindfulness, guiding participants through contemplative practices and exploring microaggressions as well as the capacity for valuing difference. Participants can sign up for part 1 and 2 sessions on either Jan. 19 and 26 or Feb. 16 and 23. Both trainings will take place from 3-5 p.m. via Zoom. Part 3 meeting dates will be announced early this spring semester. Faculty professional development related to diversity, equity, and inclusion will be explicitly acknowledged in annual reviews.
“We take an in-depth look at beliefs and attitudes and what makes people feel like they belong,” Gaither said. “It’s not just about race, but how can we push the needle in the right direction and create a cultural transformation.”