Staff member sparks mindfulness movement at Georgian

Young woman with long blonde hair sits near window holding mug of tea, wearing grey sweater and white and grey scarfIt was a love of the practice combined with empirical research that inspired writing centre technologist Sarah Hunter to incorporate mindfulness into her classroom.

A long-time yogi, Hunter understood all too well the benefits mindfulness could offer and started introducing it slowly to her students.

“Mindfulness is a tool that can help students manage stress, improve focus and feel more connected to their postsecondary experience,” she says. “It’s proven to increase student wellness and persistence through and beyond their program of study.”

Activities Hunter facilitates with students include everything from walking them through a set of 10 deep breaths before a mid-term, to ending class by asking them to close their eyes and reflect on course material.

“In my experience, students respond positively,” Hunter says. “They often send me messages sharing the value they got out of our short practice in class.”

Inspired to spread the mindfulness movement even further across the college, Hunter helped found a mindfulness community of practice consisting of students, faculty and staff. The group runs a popular online weekly column for employees, sharing tips and strategies on how to embed mindfulness into the classroom.

They also offer mindfulness workshops and retreats open to anyone throughout the year.

“Mindfulness is about being fully connected in the present moment,” explains Hunter. “It teaches us how to slow down and be more compassionate to ourselves and each other. What better tool for change than that?”

Hunter is a member of Georgian’s Change Team. She’s also mentoring a local high school with its sights set on becoming the first Ashoka changemaker secondary school in Canada.

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