Tash’s Book

 

First up in the #ttsmgrad series, Natasha Guimond shows the mockup of her first book, Nellie Knows, an educational children’s book based on mindfulness and emotional intelligence.

Be sure to check Tash out on her website (which is pretty stellar if I do say so myself) and social media profiles.

www.natashaguimond.com
@nguimond

 

The Tenth Insight

April 2016 Book of the Month

A couple years ago I posted The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield as one of my favorite books. It was in fact the book that helped bring Molly and I together in my first sociology course with her.

The Tenth Insight, also by James Redfield, is the sequel to The Celestine Prophecy and another great read as we enter spring.

“In this exciting sequel to The Celestine Prophecy, in a rich setting of cathedral forests, wooded streams, and majestic waterfalls, your adventure in search of THE TENTH INSIGHT unfolds.

It is a trip that will take you through portals into other dimensions…to memories of past experiences and other centuries…to the moment before our conception and the birth vision we all experience…to the passage of death and the life review we must all face…to the self-imposed isolation of hell, where fearful souls resist awakening…and the love-filled Afterlife dimension where the knowledge of human destiny is guarded and held. And back on Earth, you will see the fear of the future that is endangering Earth’s spiritual renaissance, and you will struggle to overcome this fear by exploring the nature of intuition, synchronicity, and visualization.”

Moving Beyond the Grading Rubric

 

The directive to “know thyself” permeates much of the American university experience. As professors and mentors, advisors and guidance counselors, we frequently tell our students to follow their passions and ambitions—to act upon what they “know” those inner strivings to be—and yet we too often ignore the role of reflection in the classroom. We ask our students to trust and follow their intuitions without teaching them to tap into intuition in the first place. We assume our students’ self-knowledge even as we eliminate the pursuit of it at almost every turn.

The truth is that all reference to the “spiritual” in the college classroom has been eradicated—a process that’s taken place over the course of many generations. As far back as one hundred years ago, the advent of the modern industrial age demanded an increased emphasis on science, technology, evaluation and rational inquiry. Even the so-called softer fields—fields like sociology, psychology and philosophy—have strived to discourage students from too much introspection.

But what happens when we give individual students the experience of sharing their innermost truth with others? When we tie the rigor of scientific inquiry to the open-ended messiness of self-inquiry? In my opinion, we nourish not just the mind, but the heart. Shifting the focus from “What do I want to do?’ to “Who do I want to be?” reconnects students with their truest passions, jump-starting the process of true learning. In short, encouraging a search for meaning in the classroom also promotes life-long learning and curiosity. The search for meaning, unlike the search for “answers” demands that our students see their educations as dynamic and ongoing—not constricted by the fixed timelines of a particular course or a four-year degree.

Every semester I tell my students that the goal of my class is to have them leave the semester knowing less. This confuses them terribly. But I believe a college education should provide more than job training. It should offer students opportunities to see knowledge as unlimited. It should show them that true learning is grounded in the deeper experiences of the spirit. It should open their eyes to the fact that when intellectual life is supported by a deep intuition and contentment, scholarly and professional pursuits then become creative, fruitful, and significant instead of barren, ineffective, and meaningless.

Consciousness, as a field of study, can be best understood by the student through his or her own personal experience of meditation. Meditation and silence encourage reflection, validate inner knowingness and offer glimpses of transcendence. The truth is everyone experiences momentary glimpse of transcendence in daily life – getting lost in thought while walking in the woods, being swept up in the joy of playing the piano, forgetting oneself while engaged in driving. We live for these moments of inner peace and awareness where the stresses of daily life simply fall away and our experience of deep connection to the world around us feels complete. But can you imagine the impact of training individuals to systematically seek these moments of transcendence? How would the cumulative layers of such peace on a day-to-day basis transform individual lives?

These are the questions I ask of my students. In their papers and assignments, they struggle with the answers. In their own meditation practice, they grapple with their own silence and reflection. Consciousness based education programs gently push students to move from concrete to abstract values, thus expanding personal awareness while simultaneously enhancing intellectual understanding. It is the goal of the Tuning the Student Mind foundation to help teachers move beyond the grading rubric through the use of consciousness based educational programs.

Molly Beauregard

Island

March 2016 Book of the Month – Island by Aldous Huxley

Dean —

Well, how ’bout this — a long overdue thank you note for the book.  I am currently right smack dab in the middle of Island.  I’ve got to tell you with every turn of the page, I understand more and more why you offered it to me.  And, I wonder how is it, I missed this one?!?!?!  While I am entranced by Will’s story, the legacy of Dr. MacPhail’s teaching and the exploration of Buddhist philosophy, my favorite part of the book is definitely the birds yelling “Attention, Attention!” Makes me smile every time they do it.  We are going to make it a book club read for Tuning the Student Mind.

Hope your semester is going well.  I miss seeing you on Mondays.  It’s funny — just when I feel the group has reached perfect cohesion the semester is over.  I come to class at the beginning of the next semester riding that high and my new students look at me like I am crazy.  This semesters group is learning to meditate on Sunday.  Lend us your brain 🙂 — come meditate some Monday afternoon or Tuesday evening — would truly love to see you.

Again, thank you for the most thoughtful gift.  I will cherish the sentiment as much as the gift always —

Much love,

Molly

The Hidden Life of Trees

February 2016 Book of the Month

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

“In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group. As a result of such interactions, trees in a family or community are protected and can live to be very old. In contrast, solitary trees, like street kids, have a tough time of it and in most cases die much earlier than those in a group.

Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.”

Social Impact Media Awards

 

We are thrilled to announce that the Tuning the Student Mind documentary has been selected as a finalist in the 2016 Social Impact Media Awards Short DOC category! We are honored to be in the lineup with some of the most powerful documentaries of our time.

Someone pinch us!

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Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

January 2016 Book of the Month

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa

“In this modern spiritual classic, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa highlights the commonest pitfall to which every aspirant on the spiritual path falls prey: what he calls spiritual materialism. The universal tendency, he shows, is to see spirituality as a process of self-improvement―the impulse to develop and refine the ego when the ego is, by nature, essentially empty. “The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use,” he said, “even spirituality.” His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. It is a message that has resonated with students for nearly thirty years, and remains fresh as ever today.”

To Be Seen

 

I have been told that my finest quality is my boundless enthusiasm.  Sometimes, however, this eager openness gets me in a bit of trouble.

Several years ago a photography student asked me if I would participate in her photo series for senior studio.  Complimented to be asked, I immediately agreed.  For years, I have worn bright red lipstick in the hopes of being discovered like Lana Turner at the corner drugstore.  On the appointed day of the “shoot”, I packed a bag of potential outfits, blew out my hair and painted on my lips.

As soon as I arrived Jen invited me to look at some of the images she had already completed for her thesis project.  The first image was of her father.  He was seated on an unmade bed with his colostomy bag exposed. The second was of a young man collapsed in an overstuffed chair – his tie loosened, his face grim, Las Vegas glittering through the glass window behind him.  And, so it went – an overweight woman with candy circling her head, a video gamer hidden in the basement.  You get the gist.

I have been teaching sociology for fifteen years.  Or, at least that’s my cover.  In truth, teaching is a rather selfish act for me as I love to listen to myself share what I know. It bubbles up on an enthusiastic wave of love eager to move through me to get to the hearts of others.  As a former student once proclaimed, “She just dumps her guts!”

Back to the photo shoot.  Looking at the series of pictures, my panic slowly set in. I suddenly felt confused as to how or why Jen thought I belonged with this rag tag group of individuals sharing their raw vulnerability.  Not wanting to offend her, I figured I’d put on my most slimming black dress and let her take a few pictures just to humor her.  Prior to taking the picture, she asked me to jot down a thought on my greatest fear.  I spontaneously wrote:  “Sometimes, I wonder if there is anything left that is worth saying, while words may echo, it is feeling that resonates.”

Jen ended up winning “student select” for her project.  Her blown up photos graced the entry way to the senior show.  Despite their prominent position at the show and my attendance, not one single person recognized me.  Even my husband looked dismissively away at first glance.  Jen had captured a moment of deep feeling.  Even my carefully applied makeup, slimming dress and good cover story could not hide my true vulnerability.  In asking me to reveal my fear, Jen had set an intention.  Her talent and patient eye unearthed the truth of my being.

Reflecting on my participation in Jen’s project, I blush just a bit at initially desiring a “glamour” shot.  In the end, I feel a certain pride at being a member of this brave group of individuals willing to share and embrace their true vulnerability.

It has taken me two years to look honestly at that photo – to see my truth exposed.  I am writing this blog as a belated thank you note to my sweet former student.  Jen, you were my teacher on that grey April day.  I am abundantly grateful to you for allowing me to see in myself what you so clearly saw in me.  My own desire to be seen for who I am. 

Molly Beauregard

www.jennbondyphoto.com

On Becoming a Mother

 

I’m back on my mat for the first time. As I gaze down my body a momentary lapse of grief for the absence in my womb is followed by the relief of finally knowing who he is.

My hamstrings ask me to go slow so I follow their lead with my heels off the ground. Flowing through each pose, I’m reminded of the miracle of growing a human. I feel the twinge in my hips and forgive them for their weakness. I promise them that we’ll work together to get strong again.

The babe is asleep upstairs and I can’t help but laugh as my milk leaks all over and the dog bites my hair, pulling me forward to play. My neck is stiff and my back is sore but I notice my arms are stronger. This is my new body.

I follow a 30 minute practice with a long savasana and a 10 minute meditation. Just me and my mantra, whom I haven’t spoken of in months. We’re quick to find each other. A sweet reunion.

I hear my little one whimper. Opening my eyes, I feel my body like I never have. I recognize that the practice is the metaphor for the return to routine. And before is a place I’ll never long to return.

Tuning the Student Mind Film Director, Chelsea Richer, on becoming a mother.

 

Innocence of Love

 

I recently unearthed a video of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi speaking in 1972. It is a sweet video of the giggling guru explaining why he came out of the Himalayas to teach meditation. “Teaching is a natural profession”, he explains, “Anyone with real knowledge can not rest until that knowledge has been shared! I could no longer rest in the Himalayas.”

A few weeks ago my Foundation, Tuning the Student Mind, had the honor of sponsoring 20 students and 8 teachers to learn Primordial Sound Meditation. During the final morning of the course, we explained to the children that it was important that their mantras’ be kept private. Mantras are precious and personal seeds meant to enliven consciousness. It is thought that keeping them private maintains their purity. Upon hearing this instruction one of the young boys got big crocodile tears in his eyes and raised his hand, “Miss Molly”, he exclaimed, “I already shared my word with my mom. But . . . she’s really really nice!  And, she needs the help too.”  New knowledge just aches to be shared. Ah, the sweet innocence of love – it flows where it must.

Molly Beauregard

See the Film