By Kalyn Dunkins
Faculty and staff gathered together in the Slayter auditorium to listen in on the insightful “Mindfulness” talk given by Larry Ward on March 25. Ward is one of the dharma instructors at his K-12 school in Bangkok. He is also a doctoral candidate studying Buddhist psychology and contemplative science.
“Mindfulness is a natural, evolutionarily developed human ability,” Ward explained. “We can function in the world more skillfully the more mindful we are. Never let your mind leave your body; both inside of us and outside of us, awareness is key.”
Ward went on to explain how being mindful and being sure to incorporate it in our everyday lifestyles will make life more fulfilling and proactive. He stressed the importance of realizing that there are multiple ways of knowing and learning, and that we should not limit ourselves to just one.
Through mindfulness, a person’s ability to have attuned communication with other human beings is enhanced. Awareness of one’s and others’ emotions is peaked and so is what Ward would like to call “response flexibility.” A person goes from being reactive to proactive.
“I think that practicing mindfulness at Denison can help individuals deal with stress by introducing concepts such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga,” said Ashley Holland ‘14, of Akron, Ohio.
Holland is a student program assistant at the Center for Women and Gender Action, which has helped organize the Mindfulness series on campus, along with the Open House.
“I also think that taking the time to focus on every moment simply makes people more appreciative and happy,” she continues. “As a community, I think that mindfulness can help us develop more patience, empathy, and kindness toward one another.”
“When I think about the value of mindfulness for individuals and society, I see the possibilities that it offers to increase our experience of joy and to decrease our experience of suffering,” said Marci McCaulay, the director of the Center of Women and Gender Action.
“I think that mindfulness has the potential to make significant positive contributions to the overall well-being of individuals, communities, and our planet.”
To learn more about mindfulness and its practice, there are sessions every Thursday in Slayter 408 promoted by the Center for Women and Gender Action.
“I’ve been nourished by you. I am more hopeful about the future because of what you are doing here,” Ward concluded. “The energy I feel on the campus has encouraged me. I know there are some difficulties, but part of what’s encouraging to me is that you’re coming to talk about those difficulties.”