By KAITIE GOODWIN
We move so rapidly from one class to the next, from assignment to assignment, that we can miss a lot about what is actually happening outside of our personal bubbles. Next week, however, we are being given a chance to learn how to take time to see our environment and the people around us, thanks to the fourth annual Mindfulness Week at UMW.
“Mindfulness, when cultivated, has the effect of reducing stress, enabling concentration, increasing productivity and creativity, and meeting ourselves and others with understanding and compassion,” said Professor Angela Pitts. Pitts is a co-coordinator of the week.
Mindfulness Week was created to help those in the Mary Washington community to learn more about mindfulness, as well as to support and expand the practice more experienced practitioners. To reach this goal, the coordinators have created numerous events throughout the week to foster interest and understanding about how mindfulness can help the UMW community.
To start the week, Bill Brooks will be leading Introduction to Mindfulness with Guided Meditation Practice on Monday, Oct. 10, at 4 p.m. in room 411 of Lee Hall. On Tuesday, the Mindfulness with Mandalas workshop will be led by Joshua Whiting, a UMW student and war veteran. He will be presenting a short film made during a Contemplative Practice course over the summer, and lead participants through making their own mandalas.
As a veteran of the Iraq war, he has found that contemplative practice has helped in his struggle with PTSD, and there is a particular invitation for members of the veteran community to attend, though it is free to everyone.
Following this workshop, Daniel Hirshberg will give the lecture titled, “The End of Enlightenment? Mindfulness and the Making of Secular Buddhism.” Hirshberg is a co- coordinator of Mindfulness week and scholar of Tibetan Studies and Religion.
A workshop for Mindful Eating will be led by Pitts, and the only requirement is to bring your own bagged lunch, and meet in room 314 of the University Center at noon.
Mindfulness Week’s keynote speaker will be conducting an interactive lecture on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the HCC’s Digital Auditorium. Dr. Beth Berila, yoga instructor, women’s studies expert, and director of the women’s studies program at St. Cloud State University, will be discussing why mindfulness is important in bringing about social justice.
She will also be conducting a workshop on contemplative practice for social activists who are getting burnt out from 1 to 3 p.m. in Lee Hall room 412. The week will come to a close at noon on Friday with Mindfulness Yoga on Ball Circle, led by Bill Brooks.
The UMW website has a list of all the times and locations of the events for the week, and the entire community is encouraged to come and learn about how mindfulness can play a role in both their professional and everyday lives.