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UGED2297 Understanding in Practice: From Meditation to Mindfulness
Medium of Instruction
Each day, our life is flooded with thoughts and emotions aroused by noises outside and inside of us. Do these thoughts and emotions support the real purpose of our life, bringing fulfillment and happiness? Or do they make our life an endless cycle of stress, anger, fear, and even hopelessness? The course offers an orientation into mindfulness meditation as a possible way of “resetting,” at personal and inter-personal levels. Emphasis is on reflective participation, supplemented by knowledge of basic concepts and principles.
From the formal practice of sitting cross-legged and quietly counting the breaths to the informal practice of embracing each moment in daily life, students will be guided to cultivate samma sati, or “right mindfulness,” one of the Eightfold Paths to end suffering. Mindfulness meditation (MM) is grounded in ancient Buddhist sutras named Anapanasati (“mindfulness breathing”) and Satipatthana (“foundation of mindfulness”) and 2,500 years of lay and monastic practice. It aims for the practitioner to develop one-pointed concentration on the body, feelings, mind, and dharmas (phenomena), and thereby to reflect on their impermanence, comprehend no-self, and cultivate loving kindness. Over the past decades, a whole range of secular mindfulness practices, or mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), have emerged to serve therapeutic and educational purposes. Students may also explore one or more of such modern applications, and ponder the contribution of mindfulness training to good health and well-being (Sustainable Development Goal 3), and to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a whole.
The course will take students on a one-week retreat in a Buddhist meditation centre, preceded by readings and presentations on relevant topics, and followed by a personal reflection and a mini-research on the experience. Through undisturbed practice of mindfulness meditation away from home and along with peers and monastics, students will master the basic skills of the formal practice and begin to develop a habit of mindful living. Hopefully, they will cultivate a sense of self-compassion and connectedness with fellow human beings that fosters emotion management, harmonious relation and wise social action.
By the end of the course, students are expected to:
- have acquired a basic understanding of mindfulness meditation and some of its secular applications;
- be able to identify and apply the underlying Buddhist concepts and principles;
(practical skills and habit of mind)
- have mastered the basic methods of bringing attention to the present moments as a way of managing emotions and cultivating insights for wise action;
- have developed a disposition toward frequent and easy entry into the mindful state, being concentrated, active, and compassionate; and
- become more open to and respectful of religious practices as a way of self-understanding and meaning-making.