Letting Go, Letting Be, Letting Come

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Present, Calm and Ready to Learn: The Value of Contemplative Practices in an Online Course

For a discussion at Fusion 2019 + webinar by Bart Everson and Karen Nichols


Higher education is currently dominated by ‘third person’, didactic approaches which focus on teaching students new information. Contemplative pedagogy shifts the focus of teaching and learning to incorporate ‘first person’ approaches which connect students to their lived, embodied experience of their own learning. Students are encouraged to become more aware of their internal world and connect their learning to their own values and sense of meaning which in turn enables them to form richer deeper, relationships with their peers, their communities and the world around them. -- Contemplative Pedagogy Network

The session opens with a contemplative exercise, inviting the participants to "let go" of their previous activities, to "let be" in the present moment just as it is, and to "let come" what may, opening to the possibilities of a transformative experience in our brief time together.

Session participants will then be given a quick introduction to Contemplative Pedagogy in higher education, and confronted with the question: How do we do it online?

We will not pretend to have all the answers. In this interactive discussion session, we will share our ongoing efforts to suffuse a particular online course with a contemplative approach. We are also hopeful of gleaning fresh perspectives from the discussion.

Further thoughts: At Xavier University of Louisiana, we are we develop a mentoring training program for faculty and advisers, called PMAX Online (Preparing Mentors At Xavier). By bringing in contemplative (or mindful) exercises for each module, we provide an additional way for learners to connect to the material. We are also modeling contemplative practices for mentors to use with their mentees.


This discussion is the fourth installment in a series of provocations which aim to interrogate the relationship between technology, contemplative practices, and the educational-industrial complex. Participants are encouraged to explore previous installments in the Phantom Vibrations series.


  • Barbezat, Daniel P, and Mirabai Bush. Contemplative Practices in Higher Education: Powerful Methods to Transform Teaching and Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2014.
  • Douglass, Laura Sevika. “Contemplative Online Learning Environments.”Journal of Online Education, 2007. http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/waoe/douglass.htm
  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion, 1994.
  • Levy, David M. Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.
  • Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim. The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul. New York: Little, Brown, 2013.
  • Schoeberlein, Deborah R, and Suki Sheth. Mindful Teaching & Teaching Mindfulness : A Guide for Anyone Who Teaches Anything. Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications, 2009.