With my role as a Mindfulness Trainer and Consultant for the Yale- NUS College, I have taught courses and workshops on the Psychology of Mindfulness, Introduction to Mindfulness, A Mindful Journey to Happiness, Contemplative Education series, Mindfulness for Research and Reflections, Face COVID -19 with Mindfulness & Compassion, for students, faculty and staff of the Yale-NUS College Community.
There is a growing number of students participating in the mindfulness courses. We have covered various topics to meet the needs of the students: Mindfulness for self-care, Mindfulness of emotions, A mindful way to study, Cultivating mindful relationships, Mindfulness for restless body and mind, The skills of happiness.
Recently we have organized weekly mindfulness practice sessions on Zoom to suit the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. After a ten-week of Self-care hour on Zoom, many participants expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the mindfulness space that make me really happy and motivated.
“The mindfulness community has given me something to look forward to at a time where my activities are limited. It’s also made me grateful to know that such a community exists in the midst of the high pressures in college.”
“The mindfulness community has been very wonderful! I am truly blessed to be part of this community. This community has given me safe space to relax and be compassionate to myself. I feel very supported. Thank you so much, Le and everyone.”
“Hello Le. I loved today’s practice – especially the part about acknowledging loneliness and anxiety, caring for others, and thinking about nature! It was not only calming but felt very fulfilling – I think it gave me a lot to reflect on, and I am so grateful for these series! Thank you for all the time and efforts you put into this, it has been so so helpful. “
In addition to taking care of the mindfulness space for the students, I have also been enjoying planting seeds of mindfulness among the faculty and staff of the Yale-NUS College. Over the past two years, we have formed a community of both faculty and staff who came together to practise mindfulness for self-care and also to take care of each other.
The collective energy of mindfulness and peace that we co-generated did help us calm down, relax, and have more positive energy to share with people around us. Many of the faculty and staff reported that they really looked forward to the session eachweek and leaving the space feeling more calm and having more clarity to do their work better.
One of the projects that I feel really passionate about is designing and delivering Contemplative Education series for the Yale-NUS faculty who are interested in mindfulness as a pedagogical approach. We have covered topics such as:
Teachers’ embodiment of the practice – creating mindful presence in the classroom
Mindful communication for engaging students and building communities in the classroom
Mindful reading and writing – engaging meaningfully with texts
Mindfulness beyond the classroom – engaging students with the world
Reading some of the participants’ feedback at the end of the series does bring me renewed faith and inspiration to continue this path of transforming education with mindfulness:
“This semester, I have 37 students in my class, which made it challenging at the beginning for me to get to know each student well. The mindfulness training has equipped me with techniques to build that connection, such as being more empathetic to students’ needs and general well-being. As a result, the classroom environment became quite positive, and I was able to establish a strong connection to my students despite the large enrolment. As a result of the positive classroom environment, I feel that the students engaged in more collaborative work inside and outside of the classroom. And their positive relationship with me as the instructor has helped motivate them and ignite their interest in psychology.”
“The favorite thing I did which was the newest thing for me this year was the slow reading. I had both of my classes do slow reading on two different occasions. And I found it extremely effective in getting the students to really deeply engaged with the ideas of the author. I picked part of the texts that I thought were really rich and were kind of either like the introduction or conclusion (concluding pages of a work) where the authors really put their heart and soul that really revealing what the whole project is all about and gave the students an opportunity to really sit with that. And kind of gave them appreciation for this to remind them how much work goes into writing a book or an article and having them you know appreciate the work before criticising it, which I think is something that students kind of have the tendency to want to criticize first before they understand. When we talk about critical thinking , but to be critical you still have to empathize to some degree with the authors first, you have to connect with your reading, you have to understand the reading before you can then go and see what are the limitations, the things that they have done or where are the weaknesses or the gaps. So I think the close reading, one of the great things that it does is it gets the students to engage with the text in a slightly more empathic way and really help them like take it seriously before they go and criticize it. “
“So using contemplative education for me has become a mental tool that I will use going forward in every class I teach for the rest of my career. Le’s courses had really had a huge impact on me as a teacher and I am grateful for the time she has taken to teach other faculty at Yale NUS.”