Julie Kim reports on the Day of Mindfulness at Haverford College
It is an early Saturday morning on the Haverford College campus. The snow accentuates the calm stillness. I spy a group of people with yoga mats and cushions. I follow them and the signs to where thirty-five educators have gathered for MiEN’s Day of Mindfulness.
Most in attendance live or work locally. In our welcoming session, we share our experiences with mindfulness practices and what drew us to this event. Some have a long-time mindfulness practice while others are less familiar with mindfulness practices. A number of educators hope to learn how to bring mindfulness into their own communities. Others wish to nourish their own practice in the company of like-minded professionals. I feel our day-long community begin to form as we continue to share our backgrounds, intentions, and aspirations.
In the morning, we stay in a large room with wooden floors and big windows. While it is pleasant to see the sky and the snowy roofs, the temperature in the room is quite chilly. As we move through the different practices, I sense people huddling into themselves, preserving their body heat and falling deeper into their personal practices of sitting, breathing, journaling, and generating lovingkindness. The morning is a full expression of self-care and internal reflection, all in the presence of a supportive and dedicated group.
We carry the deep sense of care and reflection as we walk across the campus. Some of us hold hands, supporting each other in our walking practice. By this time, the rest of the campus has awakened. Some people stop and stare with curiosity at our slow-moving group. As I place one foot in front of another, I repeat to myself, “I have arrived, I am home.”
Mid-day, we savor and contemplate our meals. When we break silence, many of us share how much we have enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of just eating.
For the rest of the day, we move into more outwardly relational practices as we speak and listen in dyad and then in small groups. As we build webs of connection, I feel warmer and even more at ease. I enjoy listening to and sharing with educators in a job-alike group. I learn that some of us teach mindfulness practice to teenagers in nearby Philadelphia public schools. One teacher shares that she and a group of colleagues practice mindfulness together at work. Notably, three teachers from the same school sit together, interested in the ways mindfulness practices support their school’s contemplative vision.
In our closing circle, we each have a chance to share our experiences of the day. Mostly, I am grateful for this opportunity to nourish myself by practicing different forms of mindfulness with kind, generous, and caring people. I am especially grateful to the innumerable people who made this day possible–from Walter, Haverford’s Director of Spiritual Life, and Richard, Elizabeth, and Tim, fellow board members and friends, to the people who prepared our lunches and cleared the snowy roads. I also think of my mother, who woke up at 5am to lovingly prepare my breakfast and see me off for the day. In thinking about my relationship with my family members, I reflect upon the gifts we pass on to each other. Today, we have given each other the priceless and enduring gifts of presence.