This is the second part of a two part series. You can read the first part of this post, How Bernard Saliba teaches his students about mindfulness, here.
The more mindfulness, the better
If you’re thinking about introducing mindfulness practices in your subjects, that alone is a great step to creating an environment in which students can do their best and get the most out of their face-to-face time. And if students have more opportunities to practice mindfulness, the effect is even more beneficial. Consider mentioning mindfulness practices to others in your faculty who might be interested in taking them up for their own classes. As Bernard explains, “let’s say there’s a cohort from the Bachelor of Health Science, and they have me and three other academics who they see during the week. If only one of us is doing mindfulness, then they’re only doing that mindfulness session once a week – but if four of us are doing it, then that’s four times a week that the students are doing mindfulness. I think it’s like when you go to the gym for example, once a week is not as effective as when you go four times a week, so if you’re training your body, why not train your mind in the same way?”
Timing is important
Now that you’ve started planning your mindfulness sessions, think about the details and logistics of when those sessions might take place. Bernard says that “one of the biggest challenges is that we don’t have control over when our classes run. So for example I’ve had a number of students say ‘you know the mindfulness, I know it’s great, but the class is at 5pm on a Friday, and I don’t find the exercises as useful as if I were to do them in the morning’. And most mindfulness research shows that it’s best done in the morning, before you start your day, because that’s when you’re most fresh and your brain is ready to take on all of the content that it does during the day. I think the advice would be if you’ve got classes in the morning, run it then. If you’ve got them in the evening then it’s probably not as effective because students might just fall asleep – but that might also be nice for them”. Another way of putting this is to think about what you want your students to get out of the mindfulness session. While the best time to run them might be in the morning, an evening mindfulness session isn’t necessarily a waste of time, it might just work a little differently.
Find your guide
There’s been an explosion of interest in mindfulness in recent years, and there’s a number of organisations that offer helpful services and packages to get you started and guide the mindfulness sessions. Bernard agrees and says that “there’s plenty of apps, services online, there’s Headspace, Smiling Mind, a lot of them actually work with universities. For example, I use Headspace, and the Headspace app, and they have memberships where you can pay yearly, or every three years, or lifetime membership”.
Try it out and see what the students think
You don’t need to know all the details to get going – you can trial mindfulness sessions in your classes right now. Once you’ve got a plan together, Bernard suggests speaking to your supervisor and checking if funding is available to support the initiative – “if they can maybe trial it for a semester or two and see what the student feedback is, and if the students are happy with it then present the idea to your supervisor, and if they’re keen you can surely get some funding and then implement it.”
Feature image by Tim Goedhart