Blog Post

A Reflection on Mindful Research: A Workshop for Feminist Scholars

word cloud from mindfulness workshop activities document

Word-cloud generated from workshop’s collaborative activities document

 

On Sunday, June 7, 2015 I had the great pleasure of teaching an online workshop titled “Mindful Research: A Workshop for Feminist Scholars.” The workshop was sponsored by HASTAC & the Feminist Digital Scholars Workshop, and it attracted almost 70 feminist scholars who spent a fruitful hour discussing and practicing self-care.



The workshop was structured around three learning outcomes:



  1. Learn what mindfulness and a mindfulness practice are

  2. Recognize and begin to define how mindfulness is a feminist self-care practice

  3. Develop concrete ways to integrate mindfulness practice into your life and scholarship



I invite you to explore the workshop handout, which contains definitions of mindfulness, mindfulness practice, and feminist self-care and outlines two exercises that show how a mindfulness-based self-care can be built into scholarly practice. Throughout the workshop, participants were asked to share their thoughts in an activities document, which grew to an astonishing length of twenty single-spaced pages. The workshop was recorded, and you can view the recording here.



In lieu of summarizing the content of the workshop, I want to reflect on and propose ongoing work for two aspects of the workshop building a community of self-care and the feminist analysis of self-care.



A Community of self-care



When I reflect on the workshop, what I am most struck by is the community that formed.  During this hour, we shared our vulnerabilities, we spoke about our troubles and stressors, and we engaged with concepts and practices of mindful self-care. We did so publicly and without fear or shame.



At the opening of the workshop, I stated that this workshop is part of one of my personal projects to de-stigmatize mental health issues. Our culture, and I find that particularly, our academic culture, is somewhat open to talking about ailments of the body (broken bones or upcoming surgery or dental work), but issues of the mind, of the heart, of the soul are taboo. I spoke of the influence of a mindfulness practice on my own health, and others shared pieces of their own stories. We spoke of our personal lives, our bodies, our academic lives, and their intersections.



I closed the workshop by leading a modification of a mindfulness practice I developed called “embodied writing” (see p.5 of handout). For three minutes, we sat together in silence and tuned into our bodies and our emotions. Several participants noted in the activities document how powerful and comforting it is to engage in mindfulness practice with a community.



Let us not leave this community of self-care to atrophy.



I invite you to join the HASTAC Group Feminist Mindfulness & Self-Care. The purpose and direction of this group will be determined by its community, but here are two ideas to consider:



  1. Monthly community mindfulness practice: We can meet online once a month (venue TBD by participants: Skype/Google Hangouts, HASTAC forum, Twitter…) for 10-15 minutes. This time could be spent discussing our self-care practices and/or for short guided mindfulness exercises.  
     

  2. Discussion & support:  The group forum can be an asynchronous gathering place for discussion and support. The thread is open - whether you want to discuss your academic projects, share your thoughts on self-care or explore mindfulness practices that fit into your scholarly life.



lightbulb drawingWhat are your ideas? Reply to this post or start a new thread in the group.

 


 

Fimage of feminist symbol with fisteminist analysis of self-care



The second reason why I created this workshop is that as I began to consider about my mindfulness practice in the context of what I’ll call my “feminist practice,” I could not find any scholarship that puts these two practices in a dialogue. This workshop was an opening gamut towards a feminist analysis of mindfulness as a self care practice. Yet, there remains a great deal of work to be done on this topic. If you are interested in this work, here are some ways you can participate:

 

 

  1. Contribute to the open Zotero Library Feminist Mindfulness
     

  2. The Feminist Mindfulness & Self-Care group on HASTAC can also serve as a forum for discussing theoretical concepts. Some sample questions to consider might be: What is self-care? What is feminist self-care? How do we rigorously define these concepts? What feminist theories should we draw from? Why is this work important? Is self-care a feminist issue?  
     

  3. I hope that a written piece will come from this workshop and the HASTAC group. I’m not sure what form it will take or when it will be complete. I pledge to do this work following MIchelle Moravec’s Writing in Public model.



lightbulb drawingWhat are your ideas? Reply to this post or start a new thread in the group.

 

 



I’ll close this post the same way that I closed this workshop -



May your scholarship be fruitful, and may your feminist self-care practice grow.



Yours,

Amanda

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1 comment

Amanda, this sounds really amazing and I wish I could've been there. I really appreciate all the info in the post, and would love to share some of it with my FYC students, with your permission. A lot of my research centers on mindful embodiment, in both rhetorical realms and pedagogical ones. 

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