A group of 10 people closed their eyes, took three deep breaths and concentrated as the air entered and left their bodies.
They were participating in “The Art of Mindfulness,” a 45-minute meditation workshop at the Lowe training the mind to focus on the present moment instead of the distractions and stresses of daily life.
Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist traditions, and it is one of many forms of meditation. The workshop was led by UM law professor Scott Rogers, co-founder and co-director of UMindfulness, who co-facilitates leading the twice-monthly workshops with Alice Lash, the owner of Mindfultime studio on Red Road.
“I was in law school and I was introduced to this idea of paying attention to an object and when you notice your mind wandering, bringing your attention back,” Rogers said. “I began to find that to be very helpful for focus and concentration and also the ability to really be aware of my emotions as they were changing moment by moment.”
Rogers teaches several classes on how to use mindfulness to balance students’ lives.
Lowe Curator of Education Jodi Sypher has attended almost all the workshops since they started being offered.
“Even when I am very busy and find it difficult to pull away from my work – and I am never sorry,” Sypher said. “It always gives me a sense of calm in a crazy day and world.”
Mindfulness is an ancient concept that is gaining more attention in a world full of distractions, from social media to homework to family stress. It helps enhance patience, compassion and focus. Additionally, the practice can be employed outside of meditation.
“You can be in class, paying attention to the teacher, some people are next to you, you notice your mind wandering away and you say, ‘Oh, there my mind goes. Let me come back to the breath and to what the teacher’s saying,’” Rogers said. “It’s a human quality. It’s not manufactured to add something to our experience. It’s about bringing us back to the honesty of our experience in its most authentic way.”
The museum began holding workshops for mindfulness as part of its larger mission to support faculty and students.
“The Lowe strives to serve as a laboratory for learning, a place for engagement and enrichment and site for self-discovery through art, culture and human history,” Sypher said. “We are always looking for programs that can help us achieve this vision … This year we wanted to have a mindfulness program that occurred more frequently and was offered during the day so that University of Miami students, staff and faculty could benefit from this program.”
“The Art of Mindfulness” is offered 12:30-1:15 p.m. every other Tuesday at the Lowe, starting April 4. Other mindfulness programs are held throughout the semester at the Wellness Center and the library. Admission is free for students.
Correction, 2:28 p.m., March 29, 2017: The correct time of the sessions, 12:30-1:15, was added. It had previously been written as 12:30-3:15. The names of the two leaders of the workshops were updated with more information for clarity on who hosted this particular session.