Mindfulness @ Middlebury


Mindfulness Steering Committee Members

Aimee Diehl, Sue Driscoll, Melissa Hammerle, Kimberlie Hansen, Julie Johnson, Gus Jordan, Michelle McCauley, Erin Quinn, Eli Susman, Patricia Szasz, Bill Waldron, Catharine Wright, and Michelle Yang

Administrative members: Jim Ralph, Steve Snyder, and Tim Spears

In-House Advisory Committee Members

Naila Baloch, James Berg, Sophie Esser Calvi, Carole Cavanaugh, Kim Cronise, Katie Ann Dutcher, Rebecca Gould, Michel Gueldry, Jennifer Herrera, John Huddleston, Jon Isham, Marc Lapin, Jonathan Miller-Lane, Amy Morsman, Andrea Olsen, Mike Roy, John Spackman, Linda White, Larry Yarbrough, Robert Schine, and Lyuba Zarsky

The people listed below are interested in and working in the area of mindfulness. Their special interests include research, teaching, contemplative pedagogy, contemplative computing, mindfulness as part of a larger wellness practice, and other topics. Click a person’s name in the list below to read his or her bio.

Middlebury College

James Berg
Melissa Hammerle
John Huddleston
Michelle Mccauley
Erin Quinn
Michael Roy
Christopher Shaw

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Naomi Braswell
Katie Dutcher
Jennifer Hambleton-Holguin
Julie E. Johnson
Renee Jourdenais
Ryan Kasmier
Amy McGill
Jill Stoffers
Patricia Szasz

James Berg, Director of the First Year Seminar Program
Department of English and American Literatures
Middlebury College

I have been meditating for about ten years.  Seven years ago, I joined the Vermont Zen Center in Shelburne and have been studying with the Roshi there since then.  I attend one or two week-long sesshins (Zen retreats) at the Center every year, and I attend sittings,  ceremonies, or other events there every week on average. I also meditate daily at home. My goal is to incorporate what I learn from my practice seamlessly into every aspect of my life, including my teaching.  Though I am far from achieving this, I believe that Important elements of my practice have indeed begun to work their way into my pedagogy and professional activity.  These elements might not be immediately apparent, since I tend not to invoke or implement meditation techniques or Buddhist ideas explicitly in normal interactions with students, colleagues, or acquaintances.  So although I am not a teacher of mindfulness techniques or philosophies, I am happy to participate in conversations about how precepts and practices pertaining to mindfulness might work for all of us not only in meditation but also in everything else we do.
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Melissa Hammerle, Visiting Lecturer
Education Studies
Middlebury College

From 2012-2015 I was the principal investigator of a study entitled “Conceptualizing Contemplative Practice as Pedagogy: Approaches to Mindful Inquiry in Higher Education.” The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand ways in which faculty members in higher education are developing contemplative pedagogies and to identify critical variables that have informed how they have conceptualized and implemented this educational model. In turn, in my own teaching, I both introduce students to the theoretical and philosophical foundations of contemplative education while embedding contemplative and mindfulness practices into my classroom. During the Winter Term 2016 I am teaching a course that will focus exclusively on studying and developing contemplative pedagogies in K-12 and higher education. (Students will be asked to develop their own contemplative model for teaching across the disciplines.) This past summer I participated in the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society’s summer institute on contemplative pedagogy at Smith College. In October 2015 I will be presenting with Rebecca Gould at the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education annual conference at Howard University. Our session is entitled: “Conceptualizing Contemplative Practice as Social Justice Pedagogy.”

I bring to my work in the classroom my own long-term meditation practice and contemplative study. As a writer—I directed the N.Y.U. Creative Writing Program for many years—I am also interested in contemplative practices as they support and inform creative work. I welcome the opportunity to work with faculty who are interested in developing meaningful contemplative pedagogies in higher education as we explore ways to create a place in the academy for contemplative practice.
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John Huddleston, Professor of Studio Art
Middlebury College

After personally realizing the connections between mindfulness and creativity, I have used meditation practice in my Studio Art courses for ten years. Over the last four years, I have taught four introductory courses on mindfulness. This course involves meditation practice and integrates the intellectual and personal concerns of students.

I use mindfulness to support learning in all of my Studio Art classes:
ART0159 Drawing
ART0160 Sculpture and Video
ART0327 B&W Photography
ART0328 Color Photography

I also teach Introduction to Mindfulness courses, INTD1125 and FYSE1393, which offer meditation, reading, writing and discussion on just that subject.

Mindfulness Teaching Statement
Mindfulness promotes increased attention, self-awareness and empathy. These qualities enhance the holistic development of our students with benefits for their academic endeavors and personal lives. When students encounter challenges mindfully, they can move beyond habitual reaction into more conscious and appropriate response. Self-awareness reveals our implicit, intimate and extensive relationships with the world and extends empathetic understanding.

Meditation on one’s own is certainly possible and is done by some students. However, for many, justifying the time commitment is difficult. For others, mindfulness practice is simply not well understood, or, a regular disciplined approach is problematic. Students doing meditation on their own may reduce the practice to just a form and miss out on the philosophical and ethical richness. Semester-long classes dedicated to meditation give students a practical and intelligent basis with which to incorporate mindfulness into their studies and lives in profound ways. Earning a college academic credit ensures the proper seriousness and effort from the students.

Our college mission statement declares that we are committed “to cultivate the intellectual, creative, physical, ethical, and social qualities essential for leadership in a rapidly changing global community.” We can integrate the academic, the personal and the social. Mindfulness practice encourages a wide space of awareness where a large context naturally arises. Meditation is experiential learning at a fundamental level. Practitioners develop a quiet, precise observation of their own mind and the environment, exactly the qualities our graduates need to be the stewards described in the mission statement.
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Michelle McCauley, Professor of Psychology
Middlebury College
I am a member of the psychology department at Middlebury and the adviser for the environmental studies conservation psychology focus. I am interested in contemplative practice as it relates in general to well-being and, more specifically, to engagement and concern with the natural environment. I have participated in retreats focused on mindfulness and the environment at the Garrison Institute, Lama Foundation, Upaya Zen Center, and the Esalen Institute. My sense is that there are multiple ways for Middlebury to create a culture of mindfulness on campus and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and students to facilitate as many of these as possible.
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Erin Quinn, Director of Athletics
Middlebury College
My mindfulness interest and expertise is all personal, not necessarily professional.  I began practicing Tai Chi over 20 years ago, and that is my primary mindfulness practice, along with some meditation. While my interests are personal, I have discussed the practical applications with coaches regarding the benefits to them and their student-athletes of these practices. I say “personal” because I do not have what I would consider any professional or academic expertise.
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Michael Roy, Dean of the Library
Middlebury College

I come to this mindfulness group sideways, by way of my involvement in the campus wellness committee (http://go.middlebury.edu/wellness/) , which is interested in how our community can be well through various means: diet, exercise, sleep, as well as through activities such as yoga and meditation. My connection to wellness and therefore mindfulness comes by way of an interest in how the particular ways we choose to use technology and participate in a culture of multitasking and information overload can be a source of stress, and how we might change our technology practices to mitigate against these tendencies. (See http://www.distractionaddiction.com/ ) I didn’t think of it at the time as having anything to do with mindfulness, but my decade long use of David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ methodology (http://gettingthingsdone.com/) is in fact a practice that encourages the sort of focus, regular contemplation, and sense of well-being that seems quite similar to what I am learning through my recent reading on meditation practices. I read Lizzie Widdicombe’s recent and rather amusing New Yorker piece “The Higher Life: A mindfulness guru for the tech set” (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/06/the-higher-life ) which in turn led me to download the Headspace App (https://www.headspace.com/) , and to try out a ten minute daily meditation routine. I wonder (as does Widdicombe in her article) whether or not this sort of mindfulness-lite approach is actually helpful, or more akin to diet fads that promise more than they actually deliver. Stay tuned.
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Christopher Shaw, Visiting Lecturer, Creative Writing
Middlebury College

In 2003 I began studying with the mindfulness teacher and Zen monk, Shinzen Young. Since then I have gone on to become a facilitator in Shinzen’s Basic Mindfulness system, a breakdown of classical Vipassana meditation into fundamental components such as See, Hear, Feel, In, Out, Rest, Flow and Gone, with the goals of raising a student’s base levels of concentration, sensory clarity and equanimity with whatever arises.

In advising students, and sometimes in class, I noted a loss of basic awareness to the internet, smart phones and unrealistic expectations. In 2012 I helped Devon Jersild organize and conduct an all-day meditation room on campus during final exams. In December 2014, I joined two friends in establishing Mountain River Sangha, a meditation group in Bristol that meets Sunday mornings, has more than 60 frequent attendees and features monthly teachers and speakers including William Waldron, Polly Young-Eisendrath and Soryu Forall of the Center for Mindful Learning, in Johnson, Vermont.

On my return to Middlebury after a year of leave I will be teaching a course in The Contemplative Essay in spring 2016, combining a standard writing workshop focusing on essays about all aspects of the contemplative experience with a weekly lab in Basic Mindfulness.

Courses Taught:
CRWR 0389 The Contemplative Essay (Spring 2016)
In this course we will write personal narratives and essays based on our own life experience, using the standard workshop format and a one-hour required weekly lab in Basic Mindfulness, a form of Burmese Vipassana meditation. Essays will emphasize fact, as well as insight into work, life, and writing. Readings will illustrate previous writers’ contemplative experiences, as well as matters of craft, including works by Michel de Montaigne, Rainer Maria Rilke, William James, TS Eliot, Eihei Dogen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rebecca Solnit, David Abram, Annie Dillard, and Gary Snyder. (ENAM 0170 or approval required) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. lab. LIT, PHL (C. Shaw)
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Naomi Braswell, Operations Coordinator
Business Services & Operations
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

I started the practice of meditation about 15 years ago. I had come to realize that I was simply powerless over my thoughts and emotions. I felt overwhelmed and stressed most of the time. It was suggested that I incorporate this practice into my daily activities.

As I started, it was slow but steady. Five minutes at first, and over time, my sessions have become longer and more meaningful in my life as I began to see the benefits of this precious practice. Meditation has been the art of silencing my mind, and mindfulness has helped me to get rid of random thoughts floating in my mind.

I meditate on a regular basis, and as a result, I am more productive and have an increased joyfulness and excitement for life and experience an inner peace; I have become more focused on goals at both the workplace and home; I have a better understanding of myself; improved self-esteem and confidence; and, I respond instead of react to situations and people around me.

Sometimes, meditation is a struggle to control my mind, while at other times, it feels effortless. That is why, I believe it is called the practice of meditation – I will never do it perfectly, but I will keep on practicing to the best of my ability a day at a time.
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Katie Dutcher, Summer Programs Manager
Instructor for Custom Language Services
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
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I’ve trained, practiced, and studied mindfulness since 2010, and I am interested in helping provide opportunities to learn about and practice mindfulness both in our Middlebury community and in the wider Monterey community. I am currently in the process of completing a certification program with the Center for Mindfulness, founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn, to be a mindfulness facilitator. I blog about mindfulness, and since January 2015 I have led a community mindfulness group which offers regularly scheduled mindful movement and guided meditations. This fall, I will be developing and leading mindfulness workshops for high-school students at Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, and I hope to work in other area schools as well.

I am currently leading 20-30 minute guided meditation sessions on Wednesdays at 5:00 pm on the MIIS campus in McGowan, room 215.
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Julie E. Johnson, Associate Professor, French Translation & Interpretation
Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation & Language Education (GSTILE)
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Part of the Mindfulness@MIIS Working Group, Julie is interested in integrations of contemplative practice into the curriculum and into campus life (as a rich point of intersection for faculty, staff and students), research, and cross-campus collaborations.

She founded (2013) and continues to host a weekly 20-minute drop-in silent meditation for faculty, staff, and students. Julie also co-developed and co-delivers a Mindfulness for Interpreters course at MIIS with long-time mindfulness trainer, Marianne Rowe. She does empirical research on the effect of mindfulness training in graduate interpreting students.

Courses Taught:
TIAG8520 Mindfulness for Interpreters (MIIS)
A pass/no-pass half-semester general, experiential course in mindfulness, open to all students.
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Renee Jourdenais, Dean, Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

I became interested in mindfulness for my personal well-being several years ago and attended several workshops to explore the practice more. I found it resonated with other parts of my life, including Aikido, and earlier explorations of the work of Eckhart Tolle — both of which also had had great influence on my professional practices.

Last summer, I attended one of Harvard’s workshops in Professional Education, entitled “Thriving Under Pressure,” which was aimed at educational administrators. Mindfulness played a key role in this training as well, and I’m convinced that if I were to manage to be mindful a bit more often … all would be well with the world!
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Amy McGill, Associate Provost for Integration Strategies
Office of the Provost
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

I began meditating regularly in 1970 after attending an introductory workshop on Zen meditation given by the late Roshi Philip Kapleau of the Rochester Zen Center. Although I never affiliated with the Center, or any other formal group, the practice that evolved organically from that initial workshop has been an important part of the way I have lived in the world for 45 years.

In this moment, my practice involves walking meditation, which I do each morning in a swimming pool. Meditating in water seems fitting, because when I think about the benefits that flow from meditation, the image that comes to mind is of a deep pool below a waterfall—water that invigorates, but also calms and refreshes. This reservoir is the source of creativity, compassion, mindfulness, understanding, and perspective that inform my work of helping to build connections within a complex ecosystem of people and ideas.

Jill Stoffers, Senior Director of Institutional Partnerships
Admissions Office
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

There is a large community of staff, faculty and students engaged personally in mindfulness activities. I am interested in being part of a community at work where we can deepen our practices, share resources and help build this community on our campus. I am also interested in having a central repository where we can all find out about mindfulness activities occurring on campus, no matter which office is sponsoring them.

My primary responsibilities are as a staff member. Additionally I supervise a section of practicum students in International Education Management (IEMG 8650). This the final required course for students in the program to apply their classroom learning in organizational settings for a minimum of 4-6 months. Mindfulness techniques come up naturally as students discuss their challenges and successes navigating their new organizations.
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Patricia Szasz, Assistant Dean for Language & Professional Programs
Graduate School of Translation, Intepretation, and Language Education
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Patricia is an alumna of the Middlebury Institute’s MA TESOL program. Upon graduation, she became director of MIIS’s Intensive English Programs. Her work with international students led her to an interest in cultivating emotional intelligence and intercultural competence within herself, her staff and her students. These pursuits naturally led Patricia to the practice of mindfulness.

Patricia completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course offered by the local hospital’s education programs and was interested to discover a growing community of practitioners across departments on the Institute’s campus. She has now incorporated her academic interest in leadership, intercultural communication and mindfulness into an exploration of mindful teaching. She most recently facilitated a mindful teaching workshop with English language teachers at the CATESOL 2014 Annual Conference and hopes to lead a similar session at the TESOL International Convention in 2016. Patricia is pleased to be connected to the mindful community both in Monterey and Vermont and to explore ways in which we can share resources, collaborate and strengthen mindful practice across campus.
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