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Mindfulness and the Grading Contract, Part 1

January 12, 2018

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Mindfulness and the Grading Contract, Part 1

January 12, 2018

 

New Year's Day may just be my favorite holiday (sorry, Halloween). Maybe it always has been. I remember one New Year as a child, sitting in my grandparent's lakeside home, sipping warm tea out of a porcelain cup, wearing one of my fanciest dresses and announcing, "I'm going to dress up and drink tea every New Year." 

 

I haven't quite kept up on that promise (though it sounds lovely now that I think on it), but it is this idea, that on the New Year we can remake ourselves anew, that we can make declarations that would otherwise seem pretentious that draws me to the day. I mean, a holiday that celebrates setting goals? I'm in. 

 

This year is no different. I'm about 1.5 years into this motherhood thing and I'm starting to realize just how much I need to reclaim me, which means that I declared a bevy of New Year's Resolutions that amount to a single goal—to practice self care. 

 

To that end, I've started practicing mindfulness meditation. Meditation in and of itself isn't necessarily new to me; I've been practicing yoga for years. However, this just sitting still and observing my mind thing—it's different. While I'm not sure if I'm reaping any of the many benefits quite yet, I have made some startling observations about how my mind works. 

 

It turns out, perhaps to no one's surprise, that I'm a planner. My thoughts are rarely on the present moment, or even on the past. My mind is in a constant state of anticipating, planning, and thinking ahead and through. Admittedly, this mindset is likely a part of what makes me good at what I do (course planning, curriculum planning, admissions planning, etc. etc. etc.). It seems that rather living in the present moment, I'm living in the future. It's like an unpleasant form of time travel. 

 

I've been working through what this might mean for me personally, but what immediately struck me is what this might mean for my writing. It's no secret that I've been struggling to keep up my creative practice. No wonder! Writing is an act that requires you to be present. You cannot write if you mind is on the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. Writing requires you to be there now. 

 

Of course, I'm not the first to make this connection. In fact, the idea that mindfulness may be a fruitful area for inquiry in Writing Studies has been growing for quite a while. Indeed, I'm starting to wonder how mindfulness may inform my pedagogy. (I know there's a lot to read up on here. Happy to hear recommendations.)

 

Which brings me to the second part of my title: the grading contract. However, my daughter has just woken up from her nap, so it looks like this will be a two-parter. Stay tuned! 

 

 

 

 

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