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Professor Creates Space for Mindful Meditation Online

by ZOE TREIBITZ

Zoom, an app similar to a group FaceTime, is not an obvious tool to create a space for mindful meditation. However, after using it to train as a mindfulness facilitator, Bengu Erguner-Tekinalp, an associate professor of counseling in the School of Education, realized that it worked to do the mindfulness practices. 

Tekinalp will be facilitating mindfulness calls every Monday at 12, with information available for how to access the call on the Drake Event Calendar. 

The idea for these calls came as she was exploring mindfulness and meditative practices with a group of staff in a contemplative learning group she started. 

“I realized that I was in search of having a deep connection with myself, my students, and the content I was teaching,” said Tekinalp. 

That yearning existed among many other staff members at Drake, which prompted the creation of the original group. Tekinalp hoped to reach many more than just those faculty. 

“I noticed that many other people were interested in this work, but couldn’t leave their desk for an hour, but there was a big interest and need,” said Tekinalp. 

 “My goal is to give an opportunity to people, on a Monday at the start of the workweek, just to give themselves permission to stop, to pause to focus on the present moment, and I think it will help them to have a more open awareness and hopefully carry a more relaxed mindset during the week.”

Another member of the contemplative group, Christine Urish, a professor of occupational therapy and the capstone coordinator, was quick to give her stamp of approval in the name of accessibility and in the importance of being mindful.

Urish was quick to point out Drake Busy as a mindset that affects students and faculty across campus, and the idea that productivity often takes precedent, especially as people start their week. 

“I think a lot of people have Monday regret, looking at all the stuff they didn’t get done over the weekend or all the things they have upcoming in the week,” Urish said. “Being able to just stop and take a moment and settle your thinking is so important.” 

Pointing out a mala, a small beaded necklace, she had hanging on a lamp in her office, she demonstrated how running her fingers over the beads could allow her to focus on breathing. Urish spoke about how it doesn’t need to be a big deal for people to try meditative practices. “You can just stay in your office and turn off the lights,” Urish said. 

“It important even as things come in one thing after the next, we need to become okay with taking a moment to stop and be present.”

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