Wellness: Mindfulness at ICA Museum

Welcome Back from Spring Break, PENN Students! Have you considered how you will practice self-care and prioritize your wellness for the rest of the semester? Consider attending the Mindfulness at the Museum Series at PENN’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA):

“Mindfulness at the Museum is a series of drop-in sessions focused on helping our wider community—inside and outside of the museum—to have access to tools to become more aware. Mindfulness meditation can help us to develop healthier minds and bodies, reduce stress, foster compassion, and increase our memory skills, among many other studied benefits. Participants may discover that this appreciation of the “here and now” extends outside the museum” (Mindfulness Program Series at UPENN-ICA).

  • These free drop-in sessions are open to all. No special clothing is required. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. No prior meditation experience is necessary.
Mindfulness at the Museum

While attending a public Mindfulness program series is not necessary, and you can just as meaningfully practice within the privacy of your own space and in the moments afforded in-between, there is so much support and joy in practicing mindfulness in community.

Also, an aesthetically stimulating, yet peaceful space such as the ICA Museum plays an important role in helping us connect to our sensorial system. Awakening our senses and re-connecting to our inner being and the world through them is an essential part of well-being.

SPRING 2019 SCHEDULE (Register HERE):

Mar 8, 2019, 12PM

  • Mindfulness at the Museum with Hariprasad Kowtha

Mar 15, 2019, 12PM

  • Mindfulness at the Museum with Sandi Herman

Mar 22, 2019, 12PM

  • Mindfulness at the Museum with Kate Johnson

Mar 29, 2019, 12PM

  • Mindfulness at the Museum with Shesheena Bray

Take a study break and practice self-care through

Mindfulness at the Museum!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Study Spots: Levin Building

Levin Building, Stephen A.

425 S. University Avenue
Philadelphia PA, 19104

If you enjoy urban, contemporary, modern architecture, check out the Stephen A. Levin Building as a study spot. The interdisciplinarity of the commitment its houses intersects studies of the brain with human behavior. Curiously, even “the building’s design reflects its function in the ornate aluminum sunscreen with cutouts on the south façade. The pattern of the sunscreen is designed to convey the branching and network structures found at all scales of biology and to resonate in psychological, linguistic and cognitive models” (Penn Today).

Part of Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, it was inaugurated in 2016 as an “expansion of the Lynch Laboratories, this building provides for the collaboration, exchange, and integration of knowledge that characterizes the study of Biology and Psychology at Penn. The Levin Building is attached to the south end of the Leidy Laboratories Building and houses research laboratories, teaching facilities, and spaces designed for interactions to foster the kind of cross-disciplinary work that increasingly characterizes work in these fields” (Penn Facilities and Real Estate).

If your research question is interdisciplinary in nature, this may be the perfect study spot for you. Let your neuroscientific and neurobehavioral juices flow!

Address: 425 S. University Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104–6220

Demographic: Interdisciplinary Neuroscience students, students from Biology, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Arts & Sciences

Noise Level: Calm ambiance

Traffic: Low to moderate

Perks: Cool Architecture, Next to Bio Pond, 2 Group Study Rooms Available for Reservation

THE BIOPOND AND BIOLOGY GREENHOUSES
JAMES G. KASKEY MEMORIAL PARK

The Levin Building is located next to the Penn Bio Pond. Enjoy the close proximity and take a study break, stretch out your legs, take a short walk, take in the beauty of nature and breathe in some fresh air. For more content on the Biopond, check out this Blog.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Instructor

Study Spots: Annenberg Library

Kemuel Benyehudah

Previously, a Penn GSE RWL Masters Student, Kemuel Benyehudah, now a PhD student at the Higher Education Division of Penn GSE, wrote a wonderful blog featuring the Annenberg Library as a recommended Study Spot. Check out his Blog here. We have added some updated photos of the library, below.

If you like a smaller, cozier and more intimate study environment that feels a bit more manageable than larger libraries, with all of the benefits of book and resources pick up and returns, but more importantly, a wonderfully dedicated Reference staff, experience the Annenberg Library!

Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication has a unique, eclectic and critical ethos that is distinctly interdisciplinary. You will enjoy the student lounge right outside the library as much as the library itself. Also, check out the artwork as well as their regularly featured public events, such as guest speakers, movies and other presentations.

By Staff Writer, Min Derry, OLR Learning Fellow.

Reflection & Wellness: Mindful Attachment, Detachment, Centering & Focus

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We live in a modern world, which in many ways hyper-stimulates our senses through technology and high-speed connectivity. What are the wellness implications of our new norm: 24×7 data availability, data connectivity and data sharing?

It’s no wonder that we are over-committed, restless and unrested, and fatigued. We call it brain fog, when processing-demand surpasses our own body’s limits. Limits, what a concept, huh? We push and push ourselves, expecting to produce continued, increased and optimal output, like a machine.

In the Academy, our students report increased difficulty focusing, prioritizing and making decisions. They experience stress, anxiety and social isolation. In addition to seeking professional counseling and support (e.g. Penn CAPS, Penn Advisor, etc.) when needed, we can also develop and refine some metacognitive wellness practices to help us pause, center ourselves, and focus on what is important. Consider the practice of attachment, detachment, centering and focus:

Identify Your Attachments
  1. Become aware of your attachments. The things that we’re attached to tend to trigger a physical, emotional and/or psychological reaction in us. Is it family? friends? school work? professional obligations? the causes to which you’re committed? We pour all of our energy into external activities, commitments and triggers, herein, our attachments.
Practice Detachment
  1. Practice detachment. Once you identify your attachments, practice noting and letting go. If you can’t let it go, then set it aside momentarily. That from which we cannot let go has power over us. Practice ambivalence. It does not mean that you do not care anymore, it does mean that you put a distance between you and the trigger, so that you can behold it from a distance and with reason, without it enveloping you. What can you control, and what does it make sense to acknowledge as ultimately outside your sphere of influence?
Focus on What Matters Most
  1. Re-center and focus on what truly matters to you the most. What is most important to you? What is essential to your wellness? What feeds your inner being? Who is in your love circle? Who is in your support network? When you re-center yourself and start focusing on internal growth factors, a.k.a. healthy attachments, you will start restoring, recharging and fostering healthy energy, rather than seeing your energy sipping away in a myriad of activities, obligations and conflicts.

The process of attachment, detachment, centering and focus is not a one-time task. It is not an esoteric state of being; it is not an arrival. It is an active, daily practice, which is part of an intentional and iterative process. By practicing this process mindfully, and returning to it over and over again, you can develop a healthier and more sustainable wellness state of mind. This will support your studies and personal and professional life. Modern life has a way to pull you away from your center, from your true mission, towards sources of hyper-stimulation, which can often be triggering and draining. Close your eyes, breathe, and practice returning to center, over and over again. Resist, channel and flourish.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

 

Reflection: What I Have Learned from Weingarten Students

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A Learning Fellow’s Reflection:
What I Have Learned from Weingarten Students

Returning to student life this Fall after over a decade was a humbling experience for me. Although I reveled in all of the opportunities and resources on Campus and the intellectual stimulation of my classes, I also came close to tears trying to figure out the EZ-Borrow system for a book I needed, and ruined my favorite pair of shoes trudging through a flooded walkway because it was the only way I knew how to get to class.

Although I began my position as a Weingarten Learning Fellow (one of several doctoral students in the Graduate School of Education who works as a Learning Instructor) with learning strategies based on my own academic training and life experiences, I soon realized how much I take away from students. I continually find our one-on-one sessions and workshops an opportunity to find out about new tech tools and resources on Campus, talk through different exam preparation and writing strategies, and about a million other things!

Coming from a 9-5 office-type schedule, I originally had a tendency to try and study for five or six hours at once, without taking more than a 15-20 minute break to scarf down my lunch or make a phone call.

One thing I have learned from being able to work with so many students on their own schedules is the importance of taking meaningful breaks throughout the day, whether it’s lunch with a friend, going to the gym, or taking part in a club or activity that you enjoy.

I am proud to say that I now work for only two or three hours at a time, and then enjoy a long walk with my dog or a mindful lunch break where I actually sit computer and phone free to enjoy my food. I also try to embrace the student mindset of continuous learning and reflection, and I gain courage from so many of our resilient students who bounce back from failure and are willing to try again.

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow

 

Reflection: The Necessity of Failure

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Are you afraid of failure?

I am. At times, terrified.

Have you ever felt like a failure?

Countless times. More than I’d like to admit.

Do we talk enough about failure?

Probably not.

That last question is a tricky one. There isn’t a lack of literature about failure, especially when it comes to organizational failure, performance analysis, process improvement and case analysis.

What is more needed in educational contexts, especially in highly selective higher education environments like PENN, is open discourse about failure. I once heard about a college professor who kept a copy of her curriculum vitae along with a comparatively voluminous 3-ring binder of her failures. Another college professor posted all of his rejection letters along his office walls for plain view. In both instances, the professors intentionally revealed and shared their academic and professional vulnerabilities, inviting conversation with students about success that did not preclude, but preempted failure.

Failure can be predictable or unpredictable, but often unavoidable. 

Failure can be policy-centric, process-centric, technical, relational or communal, but always feels personal.

Failure can occur in the context of uniformity, inadvertent oversight, contention, change and complexity: Context Matters. 

In order to nourish that which can only be seeded, sprouted, grown and blossomed through failure, focus on the specific type of support that you need in each step of the failure-to-success process:

a confidant? a shoulder to cry on? an empath?

a relative? a friend? a colleague? a neighbor?  

a devil’s advocate?

an accountability partner? a supervisor? a guide? a counselor? a therapist?

how about a failure mentor?

Know that you’re thoroughly equipped with all of the personal, academic and professional attributes, wisdom and discernment, to design and navigate through your failure to growth pathways. Be good to yourself. Embrace failures, like successes, as stepping stones to your journey.

At Weingarten, we are committed to supporting you through all of your academic successes, failures and things in between that come to mark and shape your wonderful, authentic and humane self.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

 

Bigger Pictures & Study Strategies: Try a Little Reading

21960325121_3db7892c7b_b.jpg“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
~  P.J. O’Rourke

Reading lists give students heartburn. Not all reading lists, and certainly not all students, but enough. For students who look at reading on a continuum ranging from mild dislike to complete detestation, any required reading gets the old stomach acids churning. For today’s purposes, we don’t need to get into the “why”.

I wish I could say that when I started out as an educator, oh so many years ago, this reading avoidance came as a shock. But that would be a lie, and according to the Blogger’s Code, one should never lie when committing bloggery.

I discovered a harsh truth of reading when I was a kid. I had a few friends who read as much as I did – a lot, and constantly – and many other friends who never cracked a book outside of school, if ever.

Not liking to read doesn’t mean that a given student won’t read. But it does make the whole endeavor…well, problematic.

The reading-avoidant do have a tendency to avoid any and all reading, often. If you happen to number yourself among this group, don’t despair.

What I like to tell people when dealing with the dreaded reading list is that something is always better than nothing. Be selective. You can pick one article out of the pack, or just read one section from each of the assigned. No, you will not have encyclopedic knowledge of the paper, but you’ll have something to think about, or maybe even something to add to a discussion just because you did something.

Getting through assigned books can be trickier, but you can always read them selectively as well. How? What you can do is use the Table of Contents to find a chapter or two that looks interesting. Can’t make yourself read a whole chapter? Use the Appendix to find topics that seem to be important to the class. Consult the syllabus or rely on class notes to give you a clue as to what seems to be most important. Still can’t get started? Make an appointment at your friendly learning center and one of us will help you.

Alas, you may never grow to love reading, but that doesn’t mean you have to make yourself sick over it.

By Staff Writer: Pete Kimchuk, Senior Learning Instructor