Meditation can help us to develop qualities such as patience, concentration, insight, and compassion. Ultimately, it can support us in living more fulfilling lives and bringing greater benefit to those around us. Modern scientific research has demonstrated that meditation can increase life satisfaction, slow cellular aging, bolster the immune system, strengthen attentional ability, improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase kindness and helping behaviors, combat chronic pain, and encourage healthy patterns of sleep.
In this course, we will bring together scholarly inquiry with applied practice—dealing both with the scientific study of the brain and mind, and with the direct observation of subjective mental experience. We will first survey the scientific literature on meditation and similar practices, looking at their effects from multiple angles: psychological, neurobiological / physiological, and social. We will also discuss traditional methods and perspectives on meditation.
In addition to our academic study of the subject, we will engage an integrative program of meditative practice and study together. This will include techniques of meditation and concentration, yogic practices of breath and body, creative reflection, academic readings, and group discussions. Near the beginning and end of the class, we will offer brief surveys to collect data about the effects of the course.
As an extension of meditative practice and in response to the state of our world, we will discuss timely issues such as climate change, environmental responsibility, and antiracism work. For those with no experience, this class is intended to be an introduction to meditation and yogic techniques and a springboard for further practice. For those with existing experience, it is presented as a context in which to deepen one’s practice in community and to explore new methods.
This class will meet in-person on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30-8 pm. As it is an interactive and participatory course, attendance is required! Additionally, we ask that you maintain a daily practice of the mind-training techniques and other exercises for roughly a half hour each day.
Grades will be based on attendance, class participation, and the completion of weekly practice, reading, and reflection assignments. There are no exams.
Attendance is central to this course—more than three absences will result in a non-pass. For late assignments, 10% of the total grade will be deducted for each day late. The line between pass & no-pass will be at an overall grade of 70%.
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