Category Archives: Center News

Students get their Zen on at mindfulness fair

From Pittnews.com

About 400 Pitt students and community members attended the event, which offered talks, family-friendly mindfulness activities including sculpting lotus flower tealight holders, yoga and tai-chi demonstrations as well as free food and various informational tables. The fair also included meditation lessons, a mindful eating workshop and a panel discussion between parents about how to teach children to be mindful.

David Givens, a Ph.D. candidate in Pitt’s department of religious studies and the associate director and co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies, sat behind one of the informational tables distributing information about the CMCS.

Given the increasing proximity of finals week at Pitt, it’s a good time for students to learn to exhale.

According to the American Psychology Association, meditation is the most well-established form of mindfulness. A novice meditator might sit for just five minutes a day, eyes closed and focus their full attention on breathing in and out.

Concentrating on the simple, natural process of inhaling and exhaling diverts attention away from anxious thoughts and depressive rumination. It should come as no surprise that mindfulness and meditation can help those with mental illnesses.
“People find mindfulness personally and practically fulfilling,” Givens said. “A lot of evidence and reports indicate that practicing mindfulness helps reduce stress and helps boost energy levels, focus and concentration.”

Read the full article.

Recommended articles just posted on our resources page

Am I Doing This Right? on Mindful.org – Answers to the top 10 questions that everyone asks about meditation by Tara Healey and .

Are You a Creature of (Bad) Habits? on Mindful.org – “A few simple steps can help you break the cycle of unhealthy actions and develop the skills to cultivate good ones.” Article by Hugh Byrne.

Take Your Mind for a Walk on Mindful.org – “Meditation can seem so meaningful and significant that it becomes a great big chore. In fact, with a slight shift in attitude, it can be as simple as walking the dog.” Article by Steve Hickman.

The Top 5 Myths About Mindfulness Meditation on Mindful.org – Elisha Goldstein debunks some common misconceptions about mindfulness meditation.

How to Practice Walking Meditation on Lion’s Roar. Article by Leslie Booker.

Pitt center promotes mindfulness on campus

From the Pitt Chronicle online

In a conference room overlooking bustling Fifth Avenue, several people gather to sit, backs straight and eyes closed, and focus on their breathing. If minds wander, these stray thoughts are acknowledged then released as attention returns to the breath. The idea is to be fully present in the moment, not thinking of the future or the past. It’s one method of mindfulness meditation, an increasingly popular modern movement with roots dating back to ancient Buddhism. A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness practice can treat a gamut of health concerns, including anxiety and addiction and can even train the brain to approach stress in new ways.

Practicing the art during the center’s March 19 Mindfulness Fair in the Frick Fine Arts Building (Photo by Emily O'Donnell)
Practicing the art during the center’s March 19 Mindfulness Fair in the Frick Fine Arts Building (Photo by Emily O’Donnell)

Practicing the art during the center’s March 19 Mindfulness Fair in the Frick Fine Arts Building (Photo by Emily O’Donnell)These biweekly, drop-in meditation sessions, which last for 30 minutes, are one of many offerings from Pitt’s new Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies, which is housed in the Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology.  Led by center director Anthony Silvestre, a professor of microbiology, the free sessions attract professors, staff, and students from across the University, as well as the general public.

“Mindfulness enhances one’s concentration, reduces stress, and, in general, improves cognitive skills. Research strongly suggests that any intellectual endeavor can improve with mindfulness practice,” says Silvestre. He was ordained as a meditation teacher by the famed Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, whom Martin Luther King Jr. called “an apostle of peace and nonviolence” for his activism during the American war in Vietnam.

Development of the center began in late 2014 when several faculty members with an interest in mindfulness—including Silvestre—began to share ideas on how to enhance mindfulness on campus, in the Pittsburgh community, and around the world. They wrote a white paper outlining goals, which are to promote the practice and scholarship of mindfulness through three core areas: education, research, and service.

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