One of Kathryn Byrnes’ spring courses, Mindfulness in Education, tends to provoke curiosity in those who come across it in the Bowdoin catalog or who hear about it from students in the class.
“Students talk about it and others wonder, ‘What are you really doing’? ‘What’s going on?’” Visiting Assistant Professor of Education Byrnes said, smiling. To satisfy those questioning minds, Byrnes encourages her students to invite a friend, teammate, professor or coach to sit in one class midway through the semester.
On one such day recently, Byrnes opened the class’s lab component — when students practice mindfulness twice a week before they launch into the 90-minute classroom analysis and discussion section — with a ringing tap to a metal bowl. She asked the group to sit in silence for a few minutes, then led them on a short guided meditation to help them concentrate on their breathing. “When we focus on our breath, we realize how busy our mind is all the time,” she said.