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Instructor’s Mindfulness Project Helps Students, Faculty Stay ‘In the Moment’

March 27, 2014 -- CNM instructor Beth Giebus-Chavez believes teachers can be better teachers and students can be better students if they stay “in the moment” and resist the urges to think about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow.

 

It’s commonly called “Mindfulness,” and it’s a promising practice that she’s introducing to CNM through a series of workshops and resources that she calls the “Mindfulness Project.”

“I find that, for most of us, our bodies are present, but oftentimes our minds are busy rehashing an event in the past or rehearsing an event in the future,” Giebus-Chavez said. "The Mindfulness Project is an effort to help students focus on what is being said in the classroom and not think about other events going on in their lives. It can also help instructors to relieve stress, so that they feel calmer and more focused on their teaching.”

Last fall, the School of Adult & General Education (SAGE) full-time instructor was awarded the CNM Innovative Faculty Developer Award, which allows her to teach four classes instead of five and spend the time she would have been teaching and preparing for the fifth class to provide workshops and resources on the topic of mindfulness and teaching.

In our high-stress culture, interest in “mindfulness” has been surging in recent years and a growing body of scientific research is touting its positive health effects, such as reducing stress, depression and anxiety while increasing focus and working memory.

Mindfulness, a practice intended to keep you mind focused on the present without judgment, started in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zin and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans’ centers and more.

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Beth Giebus-Chavez
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation, but it’s the secular practice that has entered the American mainstream. That’s what Giebus-Chavez has taught for the past 10 years through yoga and meditation classes, which she is now offering free for CNM faculty and staff. She teaches yoga on Fridays from 8-9 a.m. at Main Campus (TC-141) and from 3-4 p.m. at the Workforce Training Center.

“I’ve used mindfulness techniques and activities in my classes, and I have found that most students are very receptive to them because they help everyone become more fully present in the moment," she says. "In some cases, students have even reported that these techniques have helped them to perform much better on tests than they would have otherwise."

Giebus-Chavez teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages and English in the School of Adult & General Education (SAGE).

She will be offering two free Mindfulness workshops for faculty, staff and students in upcoming weeks. The first one, "Introduction to Mindfulness," will be presented by psychologist Kris Roush and Giebus-Chavez on Thursday, April 10, in the Richard Barr Board Room. The second, “Mindfulness and Eating,” will be held on April 17 in the same location. Giebus-Chavez  will be presenting this workshop with nutritionist, Lisa Gurule.

Giebus-Chavez maintains a website on Blackboard with numerous articles and classroom activities on Mindfulness. For more information about the workshops, or for faculty members interested in accessing the Blackboard materials, contact Beth Giebus-Chavez via email at bgiebus@cnm.edu.

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