Our Movie is LIVE

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We’re thrilled to announce that the Tuning the Student Mind movie is now available for free online.

Click here to view the 27 minute movie as well as our 13 minute deleted scenes.

Enjoy!

Meditation Puppy

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Molly brought her new puppy to group meditation with the 7th graders at The Boggs School. Gotta admit, he was a bit of a distraction from meditating but Louie sure knows how to spread the love!

Does Constant Interaction Add to Stress?

 

A meditation on interaction that needs to be watched over and over again to capture its rich, resonant beauty.

Produced by Aj Jackson & Narrated by Molly Beauregard

 

College for Creative Studies News

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We were recently featured on the College for Creative Studies’ news and events page in an article titled, Short film explores game-changing CCS sociology course that helps students tap creative potential. We’re honored to be recognized and look forward to future semesters of “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity”.

 

“If you walked into Molly Beauregard’s classroom toward the end of each session, you’d find the room swathed in stillness and calm. You’d see every student sitting face forward, eyes closed, deep in silent meditation. The scene wouldn’t strike you as particularly unusual if this were a wellness room or a yoga class, but it’s not. It may well be, however, the first academic course of its kind at an American college.

For more than 15 years, Beauregard has taught sociology — mostly, and happily, at the College for Creative Studies. But a few years ago she noticed that her students weren’t showing much interest in the material. They seemed not only disengaged and preoccupied but also exhausted. It is a troubling commonplace in U.S. college classrooms.

“I can’t tell you exactly when it happened,” said Beauregard, “but I started to have this awareness that there was a struggle going on with my students, and I wondered why they didn’t seem to like sociology and why it wasn’t resonating. Semester to semester, it felt like it was getting worse. What’s going on here?”

This question formed the basis of what would become, in 2011, an innovative sociology course incorporating transcendental meditation…”

See the full article here.

 

On Becoming a Mother

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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

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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

Community is Shared

Community Is Shared

 

I am a sociologist by training. I love to think about culture, people, interactions, identity issues and patterns. Emile Durkheim, the famous French father of all things sociological, argued that one must treat ‘social facts as things’. These “facts” become the subject of study for sociologists. Further, Durkheim believed that collective phenomenon is not merely reducible to the individual actor. Society, he believed, is more than the sum of its many parts. It is a system formed by the association of individuals that come together to constitute a reality with its own distinctive characteristics. Let me think of an example: how about language? Language pre-exists our birth and it continues after our death. Perhaps some of us will have the honor of inventing some new recognizable slang (LOL, duh), however, most of us will go to our grave influencing language to a very limiting degree.

One of the many things I love about yoga and meditation is the feeling of community shared by the many practitioners of both. I love knowing that yoga long preceded my birth and will continue long after I am gone. I love knowing that practicing meditation will go on and on far into the future for my children and my children’s children. I love being a part of a community with shared values.

Like most sociologists, I believe that individual happiness depends on people finding a sense of meaning outside of themselves and connected to the larger society. Social integration is necessary for the maintenance of the social order. There is something so special about walking into a yoga studio and knowing that for one hour you will share a space with like minded people. There is something so profound about meditating with a friend and feeling the bliss of the shared experience. As any sociologist will confirm, we know ourselves through the mutually shared values, habits, routines and patterns of our culture. Building community at the yoga studio or meditation center sends a great message to the culture at large. It confirms the value of taking care of yourself and reminds you of the many people who hope to build a more peaceful, loving, health conscious society.

Molly Beauregard

Magic in the World

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“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”

 Albert Einstein

Several years ago while on vacation in Amsterdam, my husband bought me a ring. It was a thin ring encrusted with seed diamonds to be worn stacked with my engagement ring and wedding band. One day shortly after he gave it to me, it accidentally slipped off my finger. After spending several days retracing my steps, cleaning out my car and calling all the spots I had visited, I accepted the fact that it was probably gone for good.

About a week later, I had the oddest dream. In fact, it was so strange it woke me out of a deep deep sleep and left me buzzing with curiosity. In the dream a man was painting the interior walls of my house. He was a colorful character, essentially dancing through my home swinging his arms in an elegant fashion. The images he produced were totally entrancing. The most amazing aspect, however, was that he did not have a paint brush. Everywhere he went beautiful imagery just flowed out of his being. It was as if he had entered my dreamscape to remind me of the magic in the world.

The next morning was one of those crisp, cold, Michigan blue sky days. My husband and son were out in the yard raking leaves. I was at the kitchen washing the breakfast dishes. Suddenly, I heard Mike yell, “Molly, come quick!” When I walked outside, he pointed to my ring sitting innocently on the post rail of our side porch. It looked as if it had been gently placed there by invisible hands. It was missing one diamond.

Ever since that morning I have worn that ring snuggly between my wedding band and my engagement ring. I have never replaced the missing diamond. I wear it as a constant reminder of my belief that to all things visible there is also the invisible.

For most people “real” is what they interact with everyday. It is what they think about, what they “know” and what they can trust. And yet there have always been people in every culture who possess the ability to cross invisible thresholds into the unseen. In fact, I think most of us operate with this gnawing sense at the edge of our awareness that what we “see” is only part of the story.

This morning while driving to the bagel shop, I drove through a beautiful storm of swirling dogwood petals. It was, of course, the grace of the wind that gave rise to the spring show. Every day and in so many ways we are offered evidence of the underpinnings of the invisible — the wind, our intuition, every abstract idea we have ever pondered. And, yet, so often we deny the magic.

Too often, we seek to understand the world only through science, through evidence, through what we believe to be immutable facts. In my mind an adherence to accepting only the concrete vision of what one can see, hear, touch, feel or understand limits one’s ability to grow in wisdom. A “figure it out”, evaluative mentality limits our imagination. It is impossible for the finite mind to begin to understand the complexities of the universe.

I like to imagine that my missing diamond is in the pocket of my dreamscape painter. Perhaps, he took it in exchange for the “magic” return of my ring. As Carl Jung wrote, “Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day.” It is my strong belief that mystery is what compels us forward. My ring is all the evidence I need. I wear it with gratitude.

Molly Beauregard

The Empowerment Plan

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“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

― Rumi, The Essential Rumi

If there is one thing that I am a stickler on, it is class attendance. A few years ago, a former student, signed up to take a second class with me. When she missed the first two weeks, I was surprised. A good student, Veronika, knew about my “skipping class” pet peeve. Toward the end of the second week of the semester, I received a rather breathless apology email from a very obviously busy young woman. Veronika, it seems, had been otherwise occupied. She had been invited to speak at the UN regarding her burgeoning non-profit “The Empowerment Plan”.

The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit based organization dedicated to serving the homeless community. They hire homeless women from local shelters to become full time seamstresses making coats that transform into sleeping bags. Veronika designed the sleeping bag coat while a student at College for Creative Studies. Her coats are distributed free of cost to homeless individuals.

Prior to founding the Empowerment Plan, Veronika was enrolled in a freshman seminar I taught. In her final paper, she wrote about her own metamorphosis and her awakening to the many realities of life. I remember the assignment specifically because she bound her paper between two pieces of wood. There was a hand drawn vine running between the front and back cover of the “book”. On it were a series of illustrated butterflies. It was beautiful.

I have occasionally thought about that paper while watching Veronika’s meteoritic success from the sidelines. I believe that for every situation in our lives, there is a thought pattern that fuels our actions and maintains our focus. It’s as if that final paper served as a blueprint for her future success. As a young woman just breaking free from a challenging childhood, she had a strong desire to be seen as “worthy”. By giving worth to others, she ultimately imposed worth back upon herself.

In 2011, Veronika won an IDEA Gold Award from the Industrial Design Society of America. She is also the youngest recipient to be awarded the prestigious JFK New Frontier Award from the John F. Kennedy Foundation. In addition, she has spoken at various conferences and colleges, has a Ted talk circulating and has been featured in numerous magazines, new shows and newspapers around the world.

While it may seem like individuals have very little ability to shift cultural patterns, Veronika’s success proves that individuals are the only ones who can do the work. It is through transforming our own lives that we create and construct new realities for both ourselves and others whose lives we touch. “We” are creativity in action and where our personal action meets social issues we are able to produce new ways of seeing the world.

It has been a joy to watch Veronika’s journey unfold. Having recently enjoyed a coffee date with Veronika, I can attest to the fact that she remains grounded, sincere and committed to meaningful social change. She is a powerful game changer.

Please visit: www.empowermentplan.org

The Label Lecture

The Label Lecture

It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

W.C. Fields

Each semester in my “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity” class, we spend one week exploring “labeling theory”. Labeling theory is a sociological method for understanding deviant and criminal behavior. The idea essentially is that to understand the nature of deviance itself, we must first understand why some people are labeled deviant and others are not. Theorists working in this field are interested in how labels affect long term behavior. One consequence of labeling is that labels often stick, marking an individual as inadequate for life.

One of the frustrations of giving the “label” lecture and the discussion that typically follows is that it leaves all of us feeling pretty low. The associated literature paints a picture of a chaotic criminal justice system plagued by almost insurmountable problems and populated by overworked individuals doing their best in an environment of increasing crime and violence. Thinking outside this box may require an act of bravery – especially for people in power who are dependent on election cycles.

Enter: Judge Frank Syzmanski. Judge Frank is a member of the Wayne County Probate Court and a personal friend of mine. I invited him to come to class last week to talk about working with kids in the juvenile court system here in Detroit. For once, the labeling lecture ended on a high note rather than a sigh of resignation.

Judge Frank is aware of the power of labels. His goal is to undermine the forces that help them to stick. His in-class presentation focused almost exclusively on ways to encourage healthy identity development. “When I think of all limiting, divisive, small world attitudes that so many people live with, it makes me want to shout out ‘Enough, There’s a Better Way’! Seeing the changes kids make in my court in spite of their challenges is a regular source of inspiration for me.”

True change always starts with individuals caring about the well-being of others. According to Judge Frank, compassionate attention is the key to shifting the behavior of the young people he sees in his court every day. In addition to building a program that brings yoga and meditation to young offenders, Judge Frank is the founder of the Youth Deterrent Program. His enlightened approach to sentencing offers young people an opportunity for transformational change.

Thanks for the inspiration, Judge Frank! It was a pleasure to have you visit our class.

Video produced and directed by TTSM friend, Alan Sedghi. You can see more of his work at www.aardmultimedia.com

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