John Kabat Zinn quote "We take care of the future by taking care of the present moment" with birds flying below the quote in a blue sky.
(Credit: Calm App via The Daily Calm )

We are committed to an education infused with attentiveness, awareness, and presence. This commitment is evident by the growing number of faculty, staff, and students who are attuned to this pursuit and deepening their values, commitments, and passions through mindful inquiry.

As an institution we acknowledge the roots of mindfulness and meditation: mindfulness in the West has been used in secular and medical contexts to reduce stress and pain, such as in MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction). The origins of mindfulness however, derive from Hinduism and Buddhism, with a long history originating in India and the East (the Pali term is sati). This age-old tradition and practice has been found to train and strengthen the mind. We acknowledge the lifetimes of cultivation and teaching that went into forming what we know today as mindfulness and meditation. 

Current Events

Fall 2021

Mitchelle Green Lounge

Evening Mindfulness Gatherings

The last gathering of this three part series! 

All sophomores (and any year of Midd students) are invited to join us for an informal series of conversations and experiential practices to explore contemplative and mindful approaches to learning and how they might connect with self-care and wellbeing. These sessions will be facilitated by Melissa Hammerle, Ed.D., Visiting Assistant Professor in Education Studies, whose area of study includes contemplative pedagogy, and Zoya Kobets ’23, Midd Mindfulness Fellow and Independent Scholar in Contemplative Studies. 

Meditation Room in the Scott Center (46 South St.)

Meditation Club (Prajna) Weekly Meetings

Starting September 20th join Chris Donohue, Elizabeth Austin, and Annie Midthun along with other enthusiastic students and club members for freshly ground chai tea and guided meditations. 

Meditation Room in the Scott Center (46 South St.)

Zen Buddhist Group Weekly Meeting

Starting September 21st Joshin Byrnes, Affiliate Chaplain and founder of the Breadloaf Mountain Zen Center, will lead students in learning and practicing Zen Buddhism through “sitting, study, service, and socializing.” 

Mead Chapel

Wakeful Wednesdays

Beginning September 22nd join Spiritual and Religious Life Dean Mark R. Orten for 20 minutes of quiet contemplation with reading and music for our times.

Zoom - contact Michelle Kaczynski for the link

Breathwork and Meditation

A middlebury college counseling group where breathwork and meditation is explored. Join us for virtual drop-in practices and time to be together in community. 

Email Associate Director and Staff Counselor Michelle Kaczynski at mkaczynski@middlebury.edu for more information and the zoom link. 

What Is Mindfulness?

Understanding Mindfulness

Mindfulness is “the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” (Kabat-Zinn, 2015) 

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention by quieting the mind in order to cultivate the capacity for insight. (Center for Mind in Society, 2015)

The five facets of mindfulness: (a) nonreactivity to inner experience, (b) observing/noticing, (c) acting with awareness, (d) describing in words, and (e) non-judging of experience. (Baer et al., 2006)

Mindfulness is awareness that arises through intentionally paying attention in an open, kind and discerning way. (Shapiro et al., 2012)

Positive Impacts

  • Overall quality of life 
  • Attention, emotion regulation, prosociality, non-attachment, decentering, and cognitive coping strategy 
  • Metacognitive awareness, process of complex abstract information, integration of multiple cognitive processes, and concentration 
  • Decreased sensitivity to stress-based emotions 
  • Enhanced capability of emotion regulation 
  • Interconnectedness 
  • Compassionate appraising and empathy 
  • Moral reasoning 
  • Resiliency 
  • Ability to tolerate difficult emotions and experiences
  • Interpersonal communication 
  • Social behavior 

References: Burgoon, Berger, Waldron, 2000; Leary and Tate, 2007; Brown and Ryan, 2003; Vago and Silbersweig, 2012; Fox et al., 2014; Ireland, 2014; Holzel et al., 2011; Congleton et al., 2015; Atkins and Parker, 2012; Pandey et al., 2016; Kemper et al., 2015

Historical Timeline

Recording the Institutional Memory of Mindfulness at Middlebury 

Pre-2021

Past Events  

  • Arthur Zajonc

    Academic Program Director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Physics Professor at Amherst College, and Author

Arthur Zajonc CTLR Contemplative Pedagogy Event

The first visit from Zajonc to the College was prompted by the previous year’s roundtable discussion. Instrumental people bringing Zajonc to the College included Gus Jordan and Catharine Wright. 

Meditation and Contemplative Pedagogy Seminar

Invited back to the College, Arthur Zajonc led an interactive talk on the second day, a workshop for faculty and staff on research and incorporating practices into the classroom, and a guided practice. Thanks again to the CTLR, the Faculty-Staff Meditation Group, the Scott Center, and Catharine Wright for organizing the event. 

  • His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

    Spiritual Leader of Tibet and Winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize

Dalai Lama Visit

In his third visit to the College, the Dalai Lama framed his trip around the theme “Cultivating Hope, Wisdom, and Compassion” and gave two talks. Visit the Scott Center’s dedicated page to the Dalai Lama’s visit and listen to his recorded talks

Introduction to Meditation Class First Introduced

Professor Emeritus John Huddleston first introduced meditation and mindfulness classes at the College. His J-Term Introduction to Meditation class continues to popular today. 

Mindfulness and Psychology Class First Offered by Professor Waldron

After the first offering in 2012, a few years later in 2015 the class was re-offered with Professor of Psychology Kim Cronise who teaches the scientific perspective. The mindfulness and psychology class with the elongated title Religion and Science: Mindfulness and Modern Psychology has been a popular class since first introduced. This cross-disciplinary class teaches the psychological and neurologic foundations of research in mindfulness while pairing it with the religious context and relevance to society. This class continues to be co-taught today: view course catalog

Mindfulness at Middlebury Initiative

The Mindfulness Steering Committee formed around a collective effort to support and cultivate a contemplative culture across our institution. This work, including this website, continues to be done around campus in similar efforts. Visit the Mindfulness at Middlebury website and read the Steering Committee’s report.

  • Amishi Jha

    Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Miami

Clifford Symposium: Fully Present: The Art and Science of Mindful Engagement

This three-day symposium included guest lectures, guided activities, and panel discussions led by leaders in mindfulness research and our own knowledgeable faculty and staff. Visit the symposium website to explore recordings. 

  • Catherine Kerr PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine; Director of Translational Neuroscience, Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University

Mindfulness Neuroscience Lectures

Dr. Kerr led two lectures in mindfulness. Watch the videos. Sponsored by the Psychology, Neuroscience, Religion, and Academic Affairs Departments as well as the Mindfulness at Middlebury Initiative. 

  • Lama Rod Owens

    Author, Activist, and Buddhist Teacher in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. Co-author of Radical Dharma and author of Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger.

Middlebury College Residency with Lama Rod Owens

Rest for the Weary: Working through Anger, Apathy, and Exhaustion towards Radical Love
Lama Rod Owens leads this workshop with students. Stevie Wonder once sang, “Love’s in need of love today.” His words couldn’t be more true as we face a global community struggling with war, poverty, illness, climate instability, and the rise of political authorities and governments who do not seem to be grounded in compassion or kindness. We explore the question of how practicing love can become a strategy that resists and undoes our experiences fear, apathy, and numbness as we attempt to live and love in a challenging world.
 
Love, Grief, and Activism: Mindfulness in Times of Crisis
So many of us are grieving and in deep mourning for the suffering that we are perceiving in the world as well in our own situations. Community based grieving is healing and transformative. When we combine community grieving with our deep aspirations to love, then we are able to better transform our grief into wisdom and joy. This is a radical vision of bringing our full selves into the complexity of living.
 
Prajna’s Weekly Meditation led by Lama Rod

Holistic Life Foundation Visits

Frequently Asked Questions

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Mindfulness is commonly defined as ”the practice of paying attention by quieting the mind in order to cultivate the capacity for insight.” (CMind, 2015). 

Check out our full description including definitions and impacts above.

It is not uncommon to have difficulty grasping the difference between mindfulness and meditation. If mindfulness is the practice and way of being, then meditation is the tool. Meditation specifically refers to training the mind with mindfulness (or another framework) to “quiet the mind.” This usually looks like someone sitting cross-legged with eyes closed but is not limited to this posture. Mindfulness meditation is the specific practice of meditating nonjudgmentally with awareness to the present moment (Neff and Dham, 2014). 

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Different practices serve different purposes. Find a concise list here, and refer to our personal development section

Meditations: 

Practice  Purpose/Skill Built
Focused Awareness An umbrella term for many practices, such as breathing, visualization, body scan, etc. This is any type of practice that focuses and concentrates the mind. This helps train the mind’s attention and increases concentration abilities. 
Open Awareness  The second umbrella term for practices including watching your mind and vipassana, which is an observation-based technique. This type of meditation encourages witnessing and staying in the present moment, with whatever is happening. 
Loving Kindness  Practices compassion and love for yourself and others.
Centering/Grounding  Helps you feel stable, secure, and present within yourself.
Breathing Practices breath techniques and can instrumentally help you calm the body and nervous system. However, if you choose dynamic breathing, it can wake up the body.
Walking Can help wake up the body, especially if you might fall asleep in a sitting meditation. Anchors the attention to the feet.
Visualization Calming the mind or creating any other desired feeling, depending on the scene.
Body Scan Can help anchor your attention to the body, help you notice any bodily sensations, and help you tune into how you are actually feeling in the body. Often we do not take time for this, and it can reveal where we are holding tension, which helps us release it.

Please know this is not an extensive list of practices and their purpose. 
 

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Mindfulness can improve your quality of life along with a multitude of other positive impacts. Mindfulness can be considered a way of being or a way to approach life, or day I say, a lifestyle that supplements contentment and living life to its fullest. It opens your mind to understand the complexity and simplicity of our world and aids in increasing empathy for others. 

“In our ordinary discriminatory world, we see a teapot as a single, independent object. But is we look deeply enough into the teapot, we will see that it contains many phenomena—earth, water, fire, air, space, and time—and we realize that in fact the entire universe has come together to make this teapot. That is the interdependent nature of the teapot. A flower is made up of many non-flower elements, such as clouds, soil, and sunshine. Without clouds and earth, there could be no flower. This is interbeing. The one is the result of the all. What makes the all possible is the one… We know that we have lungs for breathing in and out. But when we look more deeply, we can see that the mountains and forests are also our lungs. Without them, we could not breathe in and out either. We have hearts that function well, and we know that we could not survive unless our hearts were there, pumping. But looking more deeply, we can see that the sun is our second heart. If that sun were to cease to operate, we would die right away, just the same as if the heart in our own body were to stop functioning. We see that our boy is the body of the cosmos, and that the cosmos is our own body.” Understanding our Mind Thich Nhat Hanh 

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Please refer to our beginner’s guide to meditation  

There you can find a guide, a guided meditation, recordings from our local community, and website resources. 

“You simply begin. You start where you are… . Wherever you are, you can begin there. You don’t need to change a thing in order to start a meditation practice.” (Pema Chödrön, How to Meditate)

 

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Check out the resources we’ve compiled.

As with verifying any of your sources for credibility check 

  1. Content: do other articles verify their information? Do they cite other credible articles to support their claims? 
  2. Source: is the publisher trustworthy? Is the author reputable? 
  3. Currency: is the article up to date or updated? or is it an older reputable study that is still cited to this day?

For more help with reliability talk to a Midd Librarian or check out their guides. Other resources include Middlebury Professors with academic interest in mindfulness research. 

For more information please contact the 2021 Mindfulness Fellow Zoya Kobets ‘23 at zkobets@middlebury.edu, or the Scott Center at scfsrl@middlebury.edu.

Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life
46 South Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

scfsrl@middlebury.edu
(802) 443-5626