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The Blue & Gray Press | September 22, 2017

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Mindfulness week to return to campus

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By LAUREN GRANT

This upcoming week marks the second annual Mindfulness Week at the University of Mary Washington, which educates students and the local community on the benefits of meditation and mindful eating.  For those unfamiliar with “mindfulness,” let alone “mindful eating,” this week is all about learning to engage with the unfamiliar.

Beginning Monday, Sept.15, daily hour-long interactive presentations are planned to introduce people to mindfulness practices.  Students will be offered opportunities to participate and practice meditation while guided by regional and national experts and scholars. Among the guest speakers are a Sri Lankan monk, a Brown University professor, an author, a zen master and some faces from the UMW community as well.

Angela Pitts, professor of classics, philosophy and religion played a major role in successfully bringing Mindfulness Week to UMW again this fall.

“The goal of mindfulness is connect with the present moment, in a place of awareness and non-judgment.  You can live moment to moment and practice this during any activity, cooking, eating,” Pitts said. “We want to educate people on mindful eating especially, being aware of what we are taking in, connecting to the nutrients and fully experiencing the flavors and textures while respecting what our bodies need.”

Pitts hopes that students will learn to pay attention to the health of their minds and bodies, understanding the difference between being satisfied and hungry and resisting compulsions.  Chocolate lovers are invited to participate in the experience of mindfully eating chocolate during one of the week’s events.  Above all, Pitts wants the message of mindfulness to stay with students for longer than a week.

“It’s about overall well-being,” Pitts said.

Senior biology major Tom Bryson found the idea of Mindfulness Week to be interesting, but expressed concern that the event has very little active promotion to get the student body interested or aware.

“There hasn’t been enough information around campus to advertise it or explain it, but I would definitely be interested in checking it out now,” Bryson said.

Ellen Peiser, a senior history major sees the Mindful initiative to be a good idea, but not well promoted or explained and placed at an inopportune time during the semester.

“I hadn’t heard about the event or its purpose before now, and I don’t think timing is ideal,” Peiser said. “People are just getting into their semester, and things are speeding up.”

The week kicks off on Monday, Sept. 15 in Lee Hall, Room 412 at 4 p.m. with a discussion about contemplative studies. More information about the week’s scheduled events can be found on the UMW website in full detail.

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