Center for the Advancement of Well-Being
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mindful Living LLC

 Mindful Living Retreat 2015

Mason offers a variety of unique Living Learning Communities (LLCs) designed for students of all majors to further their understanding of the topic(s) of the LLC they join. LLCs are uniquely designed to facilitate meaningful connections between peers, faculty and staff.

The Center for the Advancement of Well-Being supports the Mindful Living LLC, where students participate in a strengths-based, values-guided, mindfulness focused holistic college experience that includes traditional academic study, and also opportunities to learn about themselves and how they relate to others. This "whole person" education equips students to make important decisions such as choosing a major and career path. Topics include positive psychology, mindfulness, compassion, meaning, life purpose, and self-awareness are approached through experiential learning and discussions. Stress is a significant challenge for most college students; accordingly, the Mindful Living LCC devotes significant time each week exploring techniques for managing stress along with increasing mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Click here for Perspectives from Mindful Living Students on a variety of topics related to academic success and a meaningful, engaged life at Mason. 

Mindful Living is supported by the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being and brings faculty, staff, and many New Century College and university resources to the LLC. Contact Mark Thurston, Director of Educational Programs, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, at: mthursto@gmu.edu

Student Population

Open to all students—freshmen through seniors—which creates a supporting network of mentors and "mentees." First-year students will find additional support from sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who enjoy the opportunity to develop leadership skills.

Mindful Living LLC from Ashlee Duncan on Vimeo.

Residence Hall

Piedmont Hall offers single, double, and triple rooms with shared bathrooms (usually four students per bathroom). Group living areas and study lounges are located throughout the building. Piedmont is near the center of campus, adjacent to Southside dining hall, Skyline Fitness, a convenience store, and a 24-hour coffee shop.

Academic Requirements

Fall: INTS 295 Explorations in Mindful Living I 
Spring: INTS 295 Explorations in Mindful Living II

All in-coming Mindful Living LLC residents must register in the two classes above. Both are 1-credit courses.

Returning Mindful Living LLC residents are required to register for either INTS 395 or INTS 495. Both are 1-credit courses.

Mindful Living LLC residents are not required to minor in consciousness and transformation, but both classes count toward the minor as electives.

Programming

Retreat. The Mindful Living LLC residents attend an overnight retreat on one of the first weekends of fall semester. Students have the opportunity to get to know one another and form close bonds.

Mindfulness Explorations. The Mindful Living LLC offers monthly programs as well as weekly explorations on various methods of mindfulness, positive psychology, and stress reduction. Mindful activities, including yoga, journaling, dialoging, meditation, contemplative arts, improvisation activities, and discussion groups offer students options for stress-reduction and optimizing well-being.  Monthly programs include activities such as service learning programs, field trips, film discussions, and workshops. Skilled faculty members provide the opportunity to explore methods for increasing well-being in an interactive, inclusive classroom environment.

Overview of the Guiding Principles of the Mindful Living LLC 

The Mindful Living LLC program is grounded in and supports the development of the following principles:

Strengths-based: Focusing on strengths rather than deficits is an integral part of the Mindful Living LLC. From the first days of the start of a semester together, it is important that each of us make the choice to regard each person in the community as a growing and evolving individual, with unique strengths and challenges. As we engage in practices that expand our mindful awareness, we choose to focus on valuing and building on strengths, capacities, resiliencies, talents, and inherent worth. Making the choice to view ourselves and each person in the community from a strengths-based perspective enhances positivity, efficacy, increases hope and optimism, cultivates well-being, and develops creative problem solving skills.

Mindfulness-focused: Developing basic mindful awareness skills involves deliberately paying attention in the present moment, to whatever is unfolding, with a non-judgmental approach that includes curiosity, kindness, and acceptance. Without mindfulness, situations involving psychological or physical distress can sometimes deteriorate rapidly. With mindfulness and with other self-management practices, students are better equipped to respond skillfully rather than react unskillfully to the complexity and immediacy of their lives.

The Mindful Living LLC not only teaches students about mindfulness theory, practices, and skills, but also provides opportunities for students to peer teach, and express what they are learning in a hands-on environment. Students often have the chance to present their research, interpretations, opinions, revelations, and ideas to the community and foster a conversational and guided discussion.

Values-guided: The Mindful Living LLC supports students in actively and continually clarifying their personal values in addition to the embodiment of mindfulness, compassion, creativity, self-efficacy, and community resilience.  Sharing their values, experiences, knowledge, and healthy coping skills is an important aspect of peer support in the Mindful Living LLC program.

Self-directed: Mindful living and well-being is a process that must be directed by the individual student, who defines her or his own goals and designs a unique path towards those goals in the context of college life. The most empowered students assume personal responsibility for their own self-care, practice healthy coping strategies, seek appropriate support, and utilize campus resources.

Responsibility: We must all assume responsibility for our own self-care and journey of adult development. Being a member in the Mindful Living LLC supports students in working to understand and give meaning to their experiences and supports them in identifying coping strategies and integrative processes to promote personal well-being and community flourishing.

Respect: A key principle of mindful living is respecting and appreciating the highest good within each person, including protecting everyone’s rights to safety and eliminating discrimination and stigma. Self-acceptance and tolerance of others who have different beliefs ensures full participation and inclusion in the Mindful Living learning community, and more so, within the broader campus community.

The Mindful Living LLC community offers a nurturing and encouraging environment for students who may be struggling with confidence and identity. The community traditionally and naturally creates a strict non-judgment environment in which students feel comfortable exploring new aspects of identity and make connections with an exceptionally compassionate group of individuals.

Holistic: Mindful Living encompasses a person’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and campus culture and community.  Students’ well-being is linked to housing, financial stability, family support, social networks, community participation, spirituality, mental and physical health, and academic courses. Because of this holistic approach to well-being, students are in a constant state of experimentation, reflection, and development.

Individualized and Person Centered: Each person’s vision of mindful living and well-being is unique, based on their unique individual needs, preferences, experiences, and cultural background. There is no one size fits all in regards to well-being or mindful living.  What well-being and mindful living mean is subject to many interpretations rooted in value judgments that vary across cultures, among individuals, and may change depending on stages of development across the lifespan.

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