Integrating Mindfulness Faculty Highlights

A group of Pratt faculty participated in the ‘Integrating Mindfulness’ series last Fall, lead by Joelle Danant.  Here are some of the resources and ideas generated by the group to support mindfulness in the classroom.

1. Create a share images with students online to remind them to breathe.


2. Share with students your own meditation journey.

Melanie Kozol, Zoige 2019, Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 30″
 
I have been to China twice to visit my son who lived there for 5 years. On our second visit, my other son joined us and we traveled to the Tibetan plateau of China. The Zoige marshes are the highest plateau of grasslands in the world. The grasslands, sky, and surrounding hills are vast and silent. The Red Army marched through the plateau and thousands died. Our time here was incredible both for the beauty of nature, the symbolic significance of the site and the quiet peace I experienced.
When I meditate I often visualize this place. There is something about the experience that I keep returning to in my meditation. Last year, I decided to try to paint from this experience. This is one of my paintings.

3. Share with students readings or books you’ve found helpful.

I just finished a book by Pema Chodron, titled The Places the Scare You. This quote is from that book.
Mindful Loving: “As I learned how to change my perceptions of my marital partner, I saw that my happiness lay not in what I could get from her, but in my choosing more often to love her without expectations of what I might get back.”

4. Reflect on your practice in light of your teaching and students’ needs.

The questions I asked myself were, how can I present breathing exercises into my curriculum:
  • as a means of relaxing students during this difficult time, particularly since I found remote teaching to become more challenging for the students about 3/4ths of the way through the semester
  • without shifting focus away from the actual course materials (e.g., using the class’s (already limited) time in order to provide a potentially distracting or ostensibly unrelated digression into the foundational ideas of breathwork, etc.)
  • anticipate resistance (e.g., prevent students from not treating the time with the requisite seriousness, arriving late, etc.) — Sophia Sobers. 

5. Use your artistic and technical skills to create support materials

sobers_mindfulness_01_breath_body_01

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A sketch I created reflecting on the manifold power of a singular intention
 
– Sophia Sobers

5. Bring mindfulness into your teaching activities

Reflective Questions / Journaling
  • Why do you choose to make what you do?
  • What intention do you have when you begin creating?
Intention Setting Exercises
  • Set an intention at the start of class
  • Set an intention before we engage in an activity or project – Sophia S.
In my painting classes, especially now on Zoom, I prompt students, with slide shows of other artists work, and instructions on themes and set ups. I foster the idea that students should look within their own environment for inspiration.
    1. For still life paintings, I ask them to make a still life with personal objects so that they create a painting with personal significance. I find students are more motivated, especially in this climate, by working with their own props.
    2. For interior paintings, I ask them to find an interior space in their own home that speaks to them of comfort, or describes them without painting a portrait.
    3. With landscape, I ask them to select subjects that they know and resonate with them.
    4. Last year in my color and materials class, we did a pattern project where they looked to their environment for patterns. Then they photographed a scene in nature focusing on color relationships (it was autumn at the time). They chose colors from the photograph to recreate the pattern through the colors found in nature.
-Melanie Kozol

6. Use Nature as your Inspiration

This painting is a small sketch I recently made in Prospect Park on a foggy morning. – Michelle Hinebrook
 
I was thinking about using this mediation approach in the classroom by asking the students to hold an art material as an object to focus on in the mediation. I would ask them to visualize themselves as the material, how would you feel and what would you do if you could be this material?

 


Thank you to Michelle Hinebrook,  Melanie Kozol, Steven Pestata and Sophia Sobers for sharing their reflections and artwork; and to Joelle Danant for leading this series with compassion. 
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