Welcome to The Mindful Campus, a site designed to explore how students, faculty, and administrators at colleges and universities can benefit from mindfulness.
The word “mindfulness” means different things to different people, so it’s worth a little explanation. Simply put, mindfulness is the act of focusing your attention on what is happening in the here and now.
You are undoubtedly aware that you are reading this sentence, and you probably think of that as what you are doing right now. It is equally certain that many other things are also be happening right now that are simply below your level of awareness. Depending on where you are reading this sentence, you may feel hot or cold, anxious or calm, hungry or sated, tired or rested. You may be enjoying a quiet room or tuning out the sounds around you. You may still be feeling the sting of an argument you had yesterday, or may be feeling worried about an important obligation you have tomorrow. All of this, and much more, is happening within you and around you during every waking moment — sights and sounds, smells and tastes, thoughts and feelings — and mindfulness is a skill that helps you tune in to it in a way that helps you feel grounded in the here and now.
It is easy to describe situations we have all experienced where we are not mindful. If you have ever driven home and realized when you got there that you cannot remember much of the drive, you were not mindful. If you have ever gotten to the bottom of the page of a book and realized that you could not remember what you read, you were not mindful. If you were in a conversation with someone and noticed you were not really listening to what they were saying, you were not mindful. If you ever found you had been clicking from one web page to another and were dozens of pages away from the topic you intended to explore, you were not mindful. If you have ever been consumed by thoughts to the point that you felt you could not stop thinking, you were not mindful.
Mindfulness lets us bring increased attention to who we are and what we are doing at any given moment. It lets us be more attentive to the people we are with, and lets us apply ourselves fully to the task at hand.
Scientists who study the brain, psychologists who study behavior, and educators who study teaching and learning have developed a body of research that clearly demonstrates the benefits of mindfulness. Studies have shown that mindfulness can help reduce stress, increase attention, improve cognition, reduce anxiety, increase working memory, improve social skills, and increase calmness, relaxation, and self-acceptance.
The Mindful Campus will explore how these and other benefits of mindfulness can open opportunities for improved learning, more successful teaching, and greater satisfaction for all of those involved in education on college and university campuses.
More than a century ago, the importance of attention to a quality education was highlighted by one of the pioneers of psychology in America:
"The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will…. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence."
— William James, 1890
The Mindful Campus is dedicated to helping students, faculty, and administrators develop the necessary skills that can help improve learning, teaching, and education on every college and university campus.