Life is constantly changing. Some changes, including those in the academy, can be very stressful. Mindfulness approaches can be sustaining and enriching, especially during periods of stress. However, situations of precarious employment in universities can not only be stressful, but also outright intolerable. What can mindfulness offer? In this chapter, I draw on contemplative science to explore how our conceptions and practices of mindfulness can inform periods of stress and intolerable pressure in university work. I unpack theoretical frameworks where mindfulness is constructed as a practice, state, trait and/or a life path. I consider personal mindfulness practice through the lens of epistemologies of change, where mindfulness can be constructed as extrinsic or intrinsic to ourselves. I argue that by approaching mindfulness as an intrinsic trait, we can take the pressure off ourselves in terms of the “best” ways to practice. Simply observing non-judgmentally may be enough. Paradoxically, I refer to the “McMindfulness” critique of mindfulness training in the workplace, where a non-judgemental approach could position employees to experience passive exploitation. I argue that the key to deciding between non-doing or action is in our wise discernment, which at salient times can empower a practitioner not to be a “doormat”, but instead to sidestep metaphorical “boulders”. Throughout this chapter, I weave through my experiences of mindfulness as a personal path including: following daily practice and ritual; using Thich Nhat Hahns’ mindfulness pebble as a skilful approach to anger; and supporting LGBTQI + staff and students’ legal rights.
|Title of host publication||Mindfulness in the Academy|
|Subtitle of host publication||Practices and Perspectives from Scholars|
|Editors||Narelle Lemon, Sharon McDonough|
|Place of Publication||Gateway East Singapore|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|