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Kingsborough Contemplative Practices Group

The Contemplative Practices Faculty Interest Group (FIG) is facilitated by Professor Rick Repetti (Department of History, Philosophy, and Political Science, Kingsborough Community College), a long-term partitioner and teacher of meditation and yoga, a founding member and director of the CUNY Contemplatives Network (http://cunycontemplatives.pbworks.com/w/page/8185079/FrontPage), member of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (http://www.acmhe.org), and a Fellow of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (http://www.contemplativemind.org). The Contemplative Practices group meets weekly in the Kingsborough Center for Teaching and Learning (KCTL, M391) to engage in contemplative practices and to explore ways to integrate such practices into the teaching and learning environment.

Contemplative practices are exemplified by traditional forms of meditation found in the world’s great religious traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc.), but include a variety of reflective practices that are designed to bring about states of metacognitive awareness, introspection, inner calm, insight, and, among others, self-regulation, such as yoga, tai chi, journaling, etc. See the “tree of contemplative practices” for a visual illustration of many of these practices: http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree.

The Contemplative Practices FIG began meeting weekly in 2006 as a satellite of the larger CUNY Contemplatives Group, situated at Brooklyn College and funded by a grant from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and the Fetser Institute, awarded to (now retired) Brooklyn College Professors Geri DeLuca and David Forbes. The Brooklyn College FIG met monthly, discussed previously chosen articles on contemplative pedagogy and contemplative scholarship, practiced brief meditations, and shared drafts of members’ own scholarship on the subject. At Kingsborough, we began doing the same, but on a weekly basis. After some time, however, this pace was difficult to maintain, in terms of the weekly readings, but interest in the weekly meditations soon began to involve invited staff and students, and eventually we dropped the formal reading requirement.

For some years, the facilitator would instead read a short passage about meditation to the group before or after a brief meditation, and the group would then discuss that. At one point, the group met twice a week, to facilitate the non-overlapping schedules of several core members. The composition of the group changes regularly, as the schedule changes every semester to accommodate the greater availability of the majority of members (based on Doodle schedule polls). The group met for an hour for most of its years, but in the last year we have shortened the time to a 30-minute minimum, as the scheduled meeting time typically turns out to be during most members’ lunch hours, although anyone desiring to remain longer for continued discussion is free to do so.

Our primary purpose for some time now is to practice meditation together, and to discuss the use of meditation and related contemplative practices (such as mindful speaking, journal writing, and other reflective exercises) in our own lives, including the classroom. Every meeting is typically conducted in the following manner: After a few minutes of brief greetings, announcements, and other minor exchanges, the group facilitator leads a guided meditation for approximately 20 minutes, followed by a brief exchange of questions and comments (informal discussion about the meditation, meditation practice in general, and related matters of interest). Sometimes, an article or other handout on the subject is distributed to those present, and occasionally the group discusses a previously chosen reading.

The meetings are always open not only to all interested faculty (from Kingsborough and from any CUNY campus), but to any staff or administrators as well who wish to come simply to participate in the meditations, as well as interested students (often faculty members will bring a handful of select students). The restriction to “select” students is due simply to the fact that our meeting room can usually only accommodate a few more people than usual, as we typically fill up all the seats around the table. Staff members often come just for the meditation, and leave just afterwards, if they have only a 30-minute break.

This group involves no ongoing attendance commitments. Feel free to drop in whenever you are able to, come in and try it out, and come as frequently or infrequently as suits you.

This group is open to all CUNY faculty, staff, and students, and to practitioners of meditation ranging from beginners to advanced as well as to those who have never practiced at all. Meditation instructions are always pitched appropriately to a secular membership in such a way that absolute beginners and advanced practitioners can follow and benefit.

For more information or to join this group, please contact Rick Repetti at rick.repetti@kbcc.cuny.edu

See our wiki: http://kctlcontemplative.pbworks.com

See also https://www.rickrepetti.com/meditation-to-the-people for access to many of the same resources available to non-CUNY users.

Other useful links:

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-to-meditate/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/04/08/135146672/even-beginners-can-curb-pain-with-meditation?sc=tw

http://www.mindfulnesswithoutborders.org/common/pdf/A%20Case%20of%20Contemplative%20Philosophy%20of%20Education.pdf

Admins:

Announcement by Rick Repetti on 6/2/11

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