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 MBSR and mindfulness however, derive from Hinduism and Buddhism, with a long history originating in India and the East (the Pali term is sati). These age-old traditions and practices have 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.
McCullough Reflection Space (above the Crest Room)
Join for our reflection space series! Consisting of 3-4 separate 10-minute guided meditations with a few minutes of space between each reflection for people to come and go. The purpose of the reflection time is to allow for people to come and go in accordance with their busy schedules.
Led by Mindfulness Fellow Emma Cortina ‘24.5.
McCullough Reflection Space
Weekly Morning Sitting Meditations
Join rotating staff for a morning meditation every day in the reflection space to start the day off well.
Join Spiritual and Religious Life Dean Mark R. Orten for 20 minutes of quiet contemplation with reading and music for our times.
Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life
Prajna is a group meditation space open to everyone in the Middlebury community, regardless of spiritual or religious practice. For those interested, we have short silent and guided sits, we discuss mindfulness, and sometimes drink hand-ground chai. No experience necessary.
Health and Wellness Education Office
RIO Mental Health Workshops
RIO stands for Recognition, Insight and Openness. Each week the workshops focus on a different set of skills designed to help you handle uncomfortable feelings. Workshop participants will practice these skills together and reflect on them through a combination of discussion and journal writing. RIO workshops last for three sessions and students gain the most benefit when they participate in all three sessions, but you are welcome to come to as many or as few as you like. RIO workshops are designed to help you:
Learn mindfulness skills to identify why you’re feeling the emotions you are and accept them.
Manage stress, anxiety, and other emotions productively.
Identify what’s most important to you and prioritize accordingly.
What Is 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)
- 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
- Compassionate appraising and empathy
- Moral reasoning
- 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
See Key Images
Key Images from the History of Mindfulness at Middlebury
Recording the Institutional Memory of Mindfulness at Middlebury
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 this day and remains popular.
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.
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
First Mindfulness Fellow Established
The Mindfulness Summer Fellowship was established as a one-year initiative to gather some of the history, collect the stories, inventory the resources, tabulate the faculty and staff participants, and curate a webpage that would connect these various entities and activities, as well as provide resources for the multiple uses and approaches to mindfulness within higher education. As such, it became a “cooperative” of sorts culminating in this webpage. Zoya Kobets spearheaded this project.
The tradition continues with a 2022 Mindfulness Fellow and consistent efforts on campus by faculty, staff, and student alike to support mindfulness efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions
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).
Different practices serve different purposes. Find a concise list here, and refer to our personal development section:
|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.
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
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)
Check out the resources we’ve compiled.
As with verifying any of your sources for credibility check
- Content: do other articles verify their information? Do they cite other credible articles to support their claims?
- Source: is the publisher trustworthy? Is the author reputable?
- 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.