Self-Care through Mindfulness

Kathleen J. Ryan
Montana State University

Christy Wenger
Shepherd University

how to interact with this presentation

The goal of this presentation is to introduce and encourage self-care practices as part of our personal and professional lives. We recommend starting with the introduction below, then navigating through the following resources:

  1. Harnessing flow
  2. Breathing and yoga
  3. Meditating

You also can download a PDF version of this presentation by clicking here


We were pleased to share some contemplative practices at the most recent 4Cs Coalition meeting by leading a group meditation and an action table focused on yoga, meditation and flow. We’ve each made a commitment to work-life balance by prioritizing self-care through contemplative practice, and we appreciated the opportunity to celebrate and validate different approaches to self-care among academics whose institutional lives encourage overachievement and reward those who participate in a kind of cult of busy-ness. For Kate, this has meant consistently practicing and teaching yoga, incorporating meditation into her daily life, and encouraging students to integrate mindfulness into their writing practices and life habits. Like Kate, Christy has used mindful movement, yoga and meditation to prioritize her own self-care and has taken these practices to the classrooms and workspaces of the university to help students and teachers alike. Together, we offered ways mindfulness, with a focus here on meditation and yoga, cultivates embodied, contemplative knowing and an orientation toward flourishing for the self. 

Throughout the conference, and even afterwards, we received feedback from colleagues grateful for the chance to practice self-care at the conference and to share ways they use yoga and meditation to cultivate balance in their lives and their students’ lives.

To continue to celebrate, validate and share approaches to work-life balance, we need more such opportunities at conferences.

The way the 2015 Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference,  “Women’s Ways of Making,” included demonstrations of making and informal garden talks on the program alongside traditional paper panels created chances for participants to try a new practice, like meditation, or have an informal conversation about a topic of interest. Likewise, the 2015 Council of Writing Program Administrators conference, “Sustainable/Writing/Program/Administrators,” scheduled time for “recess” to slow down the pace of the conference and to encourage taking time for self. Conference goers signed up to go to the farmer’s market, take a walk, practice yoga, or go fly fishing, for instance. Recess was a success in modeling self-care and building community.

Our colleagues’ interest and testimonies have reaffirmed our commitment to making the topic of self-care a valid one within the academy. As a microcosm of our work, the conference is an illustrative example of how we might benefit from slowing down and taking time,  so we can sit with ideas, hold space for others’ ideas in conversations and connect. Often some of our most productive, enjoyable conference experiences have been the spaces in between sessions—over meals, in line for coffee, with our conference roommates, on walks or runs in new cities—where we have the opportunities to reflect on and talk about the sessions we’ve attended. Of course, we hope that the conversations and practices begun at workshops will be taken “home” and applied to the learning and living spaces of our colleagues and our students.

We invite you to revisit the meditations we offered in March and reflect on how meditation and yoga can help you practice self-care.

image source

Spirit-Fire. (2011). Meditation [cover image]. Available from Creative Commons.


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