Saturday, 15 March 2014

Day 65: MiEN Conference - Mindfulness as a Foundation for Teaching and Learning

I felt that today's program at the conference was so much more relevant and useful. I think yesterday's conference was more geared towards actual educators, although I still gained a lot of ideas and empowerment from the day. The main things I took from yesterday were: 1. Mindful listening. This really set the tone of the conference and carried into today too. 2. Whether we like it or not, we are constantly embodying certain values, attitudes, and mindsets in our behaviours, and influencing everyone around us - students, children, friends, family, strangers. It's kinda empowering but also a huge responsibility. Hence, it's incredibly important to be aware of our actions. Anyway, onto today!

What went well? 
  1. Professor Mark Greenberg's presentation was the absolute highlight of the conference for me. I would have come to the conference just to hear him speak; that's how valuable it was to me. His perspective was thoroughly scientific, grounded, practical, and nuanced, and it helped me with my thinking for my research paper and helped me to expand my views. I learned a lot! Appreciated the opportunity to meet him during the break.
  2. Also appreciated the Holistic Life Foundation presentation. These guys had a pretty different perspective, but it was absolutely beautiful and so heartful. It was inspirational to hear about the transformative work they've been doing, especially with "problem kids". These guys are so full of love.
  3. Had a great conversation over lunch with another undergraduate student (from Yale). It is so refreshing to talk about important issues in mindfulness with people who are engaged, passionate, and can also take a critical, nuanced and thoughtful approach.
  4. Really enjoyed learning about the iBme and .b programs for teenagers. For the latter, a high school teacher who also teaches mindfulness gave the presentation, and it was great to see what the program looks like in action, and to connect with someone who is actually doing it!
  5. Finished a blog post for my regular blog on Mindful Communication!
What did I learn? 
  • Insights from Mark Greenberg's presentation:
    • Contemplative practices should not replace other social-emotional learning programs because the former are rarely comprehensive, focusing mainly on the intrapersonal components of social-emotional learning competencies (the red segments), leaving out the interpersonal aspects. So, contemplative practices are not a cure-all! But, they can deepen the skills of each of these competencies.
    • Mindfulness and yoga have been privileged in research on contemplative practices, but there are so many more, it is such a rich area to explore, look!
    • From a public health policy perspective, Greenberg would prioritise funding for  high school students, due to their metacognitive abilities, abilities to potentially understand the nature of the mind, and transition they're going through, based on the current state of evidence.
  • During the panel session, Mark Greenberg also mentioned that there is nothing like the development of a connection to a teacher for deepening mindfulness practice. Books, audiotapes and apps are useful tools, but they can't replace that human connection.
  • iBme = Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. They run retreats for teens that involve both silence and interaction. What's awesome is that even though the retreats are $795 for a week, they have never turned anyone away due to lack of funds. Last year, they gave $60,000 in scholarships. Awesome.
  • It would really suck to be a hostel manager. That guy does not sleep.
  • I realised that the reason that I had to pay an "exit fee" for the metro system the other day was that I was supposed to load an extra $1 onto the single-trip farecard (to pay for the card, I guess) on top of the stated fare. Also, even though it's supposedly "single-trip", you can actually trade-in the card to the machine and get 65c metro credit back on that card when paying for your next trip.

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