BOONE—Still Point, a collaborative for contemplative inquiry, has received official recognition by Appalachian State University as a campus-wide faculty/staff organization.
Still Point now joins established faculty/staff groups such as the Women’s Club, Faculty Staff Christian Fellowship and Black Faculty and Staff Association. The Still Point leadership team welcomes participation for the 2015-16 academic year.
The purpose of Still Point is to create opportunities for contemplative inquiry and the exploration of contemplative practice, pedagogy and research in diverse forms. “Our aim is to support faculty and staff in their personal practice but also to help students live a richly integrated life by supporting the use of contemplative practices into our teaching. Still Point is part of an emerging movement in recognition of whole person learning,” said Dr. Elaine Gray, president of Still Point.
“Amid a culture of entertainment and distraction, contemplative pedagogies address the felt need for focus, self-reflection and a quiet space amid the incessant spin. Contemplative pedagogies bring a sense of calm to the classroom and cultivate presence: being here together,” said Dr. Vachel Miller, a faculty member in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies and a member of Still Point.
As an introspective approach to learning, contemplative inquiry is used across academic disciplines in many colleges and universities around the world. It includes diverse forms, such as yoga, breathing work, deep listening exercises, mindfulness meditation and reflective journaling, which research has shown to enrich capacities for self-awareness, clear attention, well-being, compassion and empathy, leadership development and academic performance. Miller said “an attuned presence” developed through contemplative pedagogy can enable deeper expression and more compassionate listening, which he said are qualities of a profound learning space.
About Still Point
The organization formed in 2013 after Dr. Elaine Gray and Dr. Jena Leake attended the 9th Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Pedagogy in Massachusetts sponsored by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. After returning to campus, they began work with six other faculty members interested in cultivating a spirit of mindfulness on campus while exploring ways of integrating contemplative practices into their personal/professional lives and their teaching.
Within three months, more than 100 faculty and staff representing multiple disciplines asked to be added to a Still Point email distribution list. Since its start, Still Point has sponsored:
- contemplative practice sessions to the Appalachian community in 2013-14, which included guided meditation and conversations about contemplative pedagogy
- a book group on “Contemplative Practices in Higher Education: Powerful Methods to Transform Teaching and Learning” in conjunction with the Hubbard Center for Faculty Excellence and a grant-supported visit by the book’s co-author Daniel Barbezat in fall 2014
- a book group on “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom” in spring 2015
- a contemplative “Tea and Be” event welcoming faculty/staff back to campus for the spring 2015 semester
- two As-U-Meditate gatherings co-sponsored with Appalachian’s Wellness Center and two student meditation groups: Yesplus at ASU and APPSits Meditation Club, in spring 2014 and spring 2015
- “15 Mindful Minutes” sessions each Friday afternoon in spring 2015
Still Point has an ASULearn site that contains a growing list of contemplative and mindfulness resources for higher education, allowing faculty and staff to exchange information and share resources. To gain access, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the organization or to get involved, visit http://stillpoint.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
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