Mindfulness: From Los Angeles to Denison

ALINA PANEK — Linnea Pyne, a Certified Mindfulness Facilitator (CMF) at the University of California, Los Angeles, was contacted by a​​ fellow Bowdoin College graduate to bring mindfulness to Denison. Pyne had started a blog on mindfulness and Denison University President Adam Weinberg reached out. Weinberg had been practicing meditation for several years, which is one of the practices that Pyne promoted.

Several larger higher education institutions that focus on research have been bringing mindfulness to their campuses. It is a trend that many campuses are taking on as a campaign to destress and lift the pressures that accompany earning a degree.

“Weinberg said ‘I really want to bring it [mindfulness] to Denison, would you help me?’” Pyne said.

She defines mindfulness as “an art and practice to be in the moment with openness and curiosity in mind while having a non judgemental stance.” Pyne believes in the power of mindfulness because of the effects left on participants.

“There are amazing byproducts for mindfulness,” Pyne said. “Increased feelings of joy, wellbeing and ease. It has a big impact on the community.”
Programming for Mindful Denison began in February 2019, and Pyne has found a successful program that works for our community: Morning Mindfulness. It is where students can learn a practice that can support teaching, learning, working and even athletic performance by strengthening focus, easing stress, building emotional resilience, enhancing self-awareness and improving communication. It occurs whenever Pyne is on campus — as she is primarily based in Los Angeles — in Slayter Third Floor behind the stage in the Green Room.

“I am excited by the energy and enthusiasm that Linnea’s initial visits have generated across campus,” Weinberg said. “A liberal arts education should prepare students with the habits of and skills for wellness. Mindfulness is a powerful way to approach developing these habits and skills.”

The last week in February, Pyne was in the Center for Learning and Teaching in the Doane Library to offer practices that can help lower stress and juggle student workload.

For these workshops, Pyne rings a Tibetan singing bowl in hopes of creating awareness for when Mindful Denison programs are going on and to associate the sound with an opportunity for mindfulness on campus.

Mindful Denison currently exists as a “conversation of possibility.” Pyne has been working with Phoebe Bentley Myhrum ’11 the Chaplain and director of the Open House to strategize and create goals for how the students receive mindfulness and teaching faculty workshops.

Pyne has been asking herself and the Denison community “What do they know [about mindfulness] and what do they want to know more about? What are the spaces that mindfulness fits?”

Pyne has also been working with the basketball and swim team for mindfulness techniques.

She hopes that mindfulness can reach campus through other avenues while she is in L.A. She hopes to train someone locally to continue the practices and create a Mindful Denison Facebook page. Currently, Pyne has hired two student workers — Mia Catillo ‘20 and Elizabeth Toigo ‘20 — to help her with advertising and planning workshops.Pyne hopes that by the end of her time at Denison, Mindful Denison will create education so that practices and knowledge of mindfulness continue. “In gardening terms — cultivate seeds of mindfulness so that when you leave the program cultivated without me,” Pyne said. She has high hopes that these practices will continue especially due to the construction of the new wellness center.
“Denison is a wonderful place for curiosity and willingness to engage,” Pyne said.
“Mindful Denison is just an invitation. I encourage curiosity and questions about mindfulness. The community can bring it to wherever they can imagine.”

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