End of the Semester Blues
We’re approaching the end of the semester, which means a cloud of stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation has settled over the campus. I, too, am struggling to keep it together so last night I turned to my favorite guided meditations (I love Rebekah Borucki and Grace Smith). As I lay in bed breathing deeply and relaxing my muscles, I thought “my students and colleagues could really benefit from a meditation practice, too.” So I decided to start a series called The Peaceful Professor to share resources related to meditation and stress relief particularly for professors and college students.
Meditation isn’t a fad. It’s been used across the world for centuries as a way to relieve stress, cope with negative emotions, and feel more grounded. There’s also a multitude of empirical evidence supporting the positive impact of meditation. For example, a University of Wisconsin-Madison study of elementary teachers found that daily 15-minute meditation sessions reduced symptoms of burnout. Another study found mindfulness meditation actually increased gray matter concentration in the left hippocampus, which is an area of the brain involved in learning, memory, and emotion control.
At the College of Charleston’s Pedagogy Symposium, Dr. Rhonda Swickert-Hittner, Professor of Psychology, shared how she begins every class period with a 5 – 10 minute deep breathing exercise. By the end of the semester, the students are equipped with an arsenal of techniques to battle stress, anxiety, and other emotional ailments that commonly affect college students. The impact on her class was palpable as exam scores slightly increased and attendance improved. Studies have demonstrated similar outcomes. For example, researchers from George Mason University and the University of Illinois found that students who meditated before a lecture performed better on a post-lecture quiz than the students who did not meditate.
The Peaceful Professor
I am inspired by the efforts of Dr. Swickert-Hittner and the work of other scholars, such as Dr. Dennis Shirley, Professor of Education at Boston College, and the force behind the Mindful Teacher. The Peaceful Professor series will combine empirical research, guided meditations, and strategies for making meditation part of your daily life (maybe even your students’ lives). My posts will specifically be tailored to college professors, but I hope K-12 teachers will find them useful as well.
If you have suggestions for topics I should explore or experts I should reach out to, please leave a comment below. Also, if you have requests for meditations that would help you (e.g. procrastination, imposter syndrome, motivation), I’ll start building a list. I’m looking forward to this new endeavor and I hope you’ll join me! ~Peace~
Join me at peacefulprofessor.com and help me spread the word about the power of mindfulness!