Shepherd hosts conference focusing on mindfulness for social change and education
Shepherd University is teaming up with a local nonprofit, Open Minds, Inc., to sponsor a day-long Mindfulness Summit for Social Change and Education. The event will take place Saturday, April 18 from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Student Center.
Rachael Meads, director of student activities and leadership, said the event fits in perfectly with various efforts on campus to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into daily life and the curriculum. For several years Counseling Services has worked with the Department of Psychology to sponsor Meditation Monday, where students, faculty and staff are offered the opportunity to try various forms of meditation.
“There’s an increasing body of research that shows mindfulness is really positive for education, for learning, for life stress levels and for wellness in general,” Meads said. “We have also started to see research demonstrating that teaching people how to manage their anxieties and frustrations by being more present helps them be better teachers and better learners. Plus, it has tons of health benefits.”
Meads said some studies show when mindfulness techniques are taught to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade they do better academically, the school environment improves, and there are fewer incidences of bullying, acting out and vandalism.
“I think a lot of that is caused when children can’t manage their emotions,” Meads said. “I also think we get so caught up in a world of technology and fast-paced activity that we lack the ability to be in the moment and stop where we are.”
Meads said the summit is a good activity for Shepherd to host because mindfulness practices are already being incorporated into programs like social work, education, and English. And Meads has seen instances where Shepherd students have been helped by practicing mindfulness, especially when faced with the many stresses each semester brings.
“It helps them to not go through the panic mode so much, whether they’re writing a paper, getting ready for an exam, preparing to speak before a group of people, or planning a big project,” she said. “I think it’s a way to sort of breathe through a situation and put it in perspective.
“Stress is one of the main things hanging over our students,” Meads added. “I think stress is part of the reason we see binge drinking, acting-out behavior, and interpersonal conflict. If you can find a way to help students manage that stuff in a healthy and positive manner they will be more successful.”
Meads says the workshop’s focus on mindfulness for social changes and education is particularly relevant to students who are involved in campus leadership positions.
“Our framework for student leadership is the social change model of leadership-trying to make the world better as you go, leaving it better than you found it, and working through a set of core values,” Meads said.
The cost of the workshop is $50 for the general public; $25 for school teachers, non-profit staff members and holistic practitioners; $10 for non-Shepherd students with an ID; and free for Shepherd students, staff and faculty with a valid Rambler ID. Online registration is available at www.eventbrite.com/e/mindfulness-summit-for-social-change-and-education-tickets-15308073861.
For more information, contact Rachael Meads at firstname.lastname@example.org.