Be the Light

IMG_0152.JPG

The truth is always deep beneath the surface level of the words.  It is the silent, peaceful knowing that is infectious. This feeling of peace is beyond measure, beyond reason and certainly beyond words.

Many years ago the communication scholar, Marshall McLuhan, famously coined the phrase “the medium is the message.” In other words, McLuhan understood “medium” in the broadest sense. He used the example of the light bulb to describe his theory. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a profound effect on the environment. A light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence.

Similar to the light bulb, the life of every individual in their every thought, word and action influences the entire field of the cosmos. Therefore, someone with peace at heart naturally vibrates peace and harmony to influence the whole universe.

Molly Beauregard

On the Distinction Between Love and Desire

15578302_1375408402482981_8852766157520046430_o

 

Feelings of love can sometimes seamlessly merge with feelings of desire. Culturally this connection is continuously reinforced by the media, by conversation, by our understanding of modes of expression. But, in truth, love and desire are distinct from one another. Certainly, expressing our love in a physical way can be meaningful and enjoyable. But it is not necessarily a required parallel action to be pursued every time we feel the stirrings of love deep in our heart. This is not a judgment. It is simply a reflection that is often overlooked in our hyper-sexualized culture.

College for Creative Studies News

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.16.08 AM

 

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.

 

Moving Beyond the Grading Rubric

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.29.06 AM

 

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

a poem

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.52.40 AM

 

There is an inherent sadness in humanity, this particular kind of turmoil
that spurs our uncertainty, from uncertainty.
It causes conventional men and women to cling recklessly to their egos
and self proclaimed artists to drown in their identity, desperate to be clever,
as if wit can do anything but breed with itself
when it lacks the concept of compassion.
My limbo generation slides in and out of consciousness,
with their standards distorted and excuses within reach.
Meanwhile a vast and endless universe opens its doors to anyone, anything
willing to be a part of it.
You may feel on top of the world
but in reality you are floating, only a speck, in everything,
and I wish you could see how beautiful you are.

Rachel Pendergrass

The Essential Rumi

51ddZQHA2sL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

August 2015 Book of the Month

It’s that time of year again, and you may not want to dip into a novel right now. This should be a time of reflection and getting ready for the semester ahead. So we thought you might enjoy a book of poems by Rumi.

Our favorite method of reading a book of poems is to just pick it up and open to any page. The poem below is what we opened up to today. Sure seems fitting!

A Cleared Site
The presence rolling through again
clears the shelves and shuts down shops.

Friend of the soul, enemy of the soul,
why do you want mine?

Bring tribute from the village.
But the village is gone in your flood.

That cleared site is what I want.
Live in the opening where there is no door
to hide behind. Be your absence.
In that state everything is essential.

The rest of this must be said in silence
because of the enormous difference
between light and the words
that try to say light.

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

Angie Foster | Cutting Room Floor

Angie_resize
One of our favorite past times is catching up with old friends.  Angie Foster is a 2013 graduate of the Tuning the Student Mind program at the College for Creative Studies. She now lives and works in NYC.  Take it away Angie:

 

I moved to Brooklyn from Detroit last August. So far it has been adventurous, sweaty, lovely, hilarious, intimidating, ambitious, and perfectly imperfect in every way. I never know what I am going to see or do, but I just feel this pull that I am moving in the right direction. Within a few months of random freelance work when I moved here, I got my foot in the door of Pentagram, pretty much my dream job.

A two-week freelance gig turned into a 9 month freelance-turned-internship with some great people and designers. It has been an extreme growth period for me. I have questioned everything I know about life and design—and I genuinely love it. I’ve felt proud and appreciated and intimidated and confident, even though (once or twice) I’ve cried in the bathroom.

I still begin each day by meditating for 20 minutes. I ease my way through my morning routine without engaging with any digital screens so that I can set up my mind for the work that lay ahead.

In April, I joined Elle Luna and The Great Discontent in the reiteration of Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project. I decided to introduce myself to someone new every day and document it in a sketchbook. I’ve met a barista, a professional juggler, a 40-something student, a DJ, best friends, an au pair, a makeup artist, a neighbor, a mutual friend, a bartender, an engineer, and even a celebrity—and I’m only on day 36. These titles are merely identifiers for the context in which I met them. Because each of these people are humans. They are siblings, spouses, parents, friends, employees and they took time out of their lives to talk to me. It’s a humbling, grounding, and liberating experience to approach a stranger without knowing what will come of it. It’s the most dreaded (before I do it) and most fulfilling (seconds after) part of every day for me, so far.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 9.56.34 AM

Things that David told me during our chat: His two dogs (who were adorable) are Walnut and Barley. Walnut is bicultural—a lover of all humans and animals alike. Walnut, on the other hand, is a diplomat—he chooses carefully. While we were talking, a woman and her dog came up to us. Walnut proceeded to hop up onto her leg and hug–not hump–it. The dog was giving her leg a mid-western embrace, as sweet as that.

 

 

Every moment in life is exactly how it’s meant to be. It’s weird and great and messy. With the support of friends, family, coworkers, and the occasional kind stranger, I am able to forge on, right into who I’m meant to become.

To view my 100 Day Project #100introductions, follow me on Instagram or Tumblr.

 

Check out part of Angie’s 2013 interview that unfortunately didn’t make it into the Tuning the Student Mind documentary, but was just too good to leave on the cutting room floor (Amazing to witness Angie work toward manifesting her dreams. Congratulations, Angie! We hope you’ll continue to keep in touch. We’re rooting for you here at TTSM!):

 

Chelsea: Last night when I was sitting in on your class I caught something you said to Molly. I’m going to tell you what you said and maybe you can elaborate on it a bit. What you said was “If there is anything I now know from taking this class it’s that everything I need is right here within me.”

Angie: I think just realizing that you’re graduating college and you have to become this person and it’s been this 18 or 22 year adventure. Then you get there and you’re like, oh shit, what am I going to be? Who am I going be? What am I going to do? There are all of these crazy unanswered questions. It almost defeats you every time you think about it.

When I do go inside and I meditate and I go within myself, I feel like I can do anything I want to do. Basically every possibility that exists is already within me. I can make it happen and there is no better feeling than that.

Chelsea: If you had to explain this class to strangers how would you go about doing that?

Angie: I guess I would say; you come to class and instantly you’re reflecting on yourself. You learn meditation early in the semester, then you start to use it in your daily life. Then, basically putting that aside, knowing that you’re doing that and having your own personal experiences, you come to class and you talk about your place in the world.

It just makes me a much more confident person, designer, artist. There is so much pressure put on us in our education to go to college, get a degree, get a job, get the right job, get the perfect job. So when you are able to sit and reflect on yourself you can really appreciate yourself I think.

Chelsea: This is sort of random but I have a feeling you’ll run with it… How does “being love” enrich your experience of education?

Angie: I think “being love” enriches my education because I care a lot about everything I do. And I think that can put me in a really bad spot with class mates or team mates that don’t care as much. I actually feel like a stronger designer when I’m independently working.

But I think overall knowing that “being love” and caring and finding passion in everything I create is just going to inevitably put me with other people that care and that want to be passionate about their work, and who they are.

Rather than ending up in a studio designing the sexiest graphic image, I’m going to be in a place with people that I’m happy to go hang out with everyday.

 

What Makes a Good Teacher

TTSM Molly White Blouse

I filmed this interview at Molly’s house in May of 2013. I remember telling her over tea and through petting her dogs that we were just going to have a conversation about why she enjoys teaching. She was a little nervous as she brushed her hair out of her face and reminisced about me sitting in her classroom just a few short years before. Naturally, Molly quickly forgot about the camera and discussed her love of teaching in the most sincere of ways.

Here is one of my favorite moments from that interview:

Chelsea: What makes a good teacher?

Molly: I think really, ultimately what makes a great teacher is just being comfortable in your own skin and being authentic. Kids remember way less about what it is that you want to teach them then they do about the feeling that is emanated in the classroom. That feeling then inspires them to go out and study on their own.

Maharishi talks about absolute love. He talks about the spontaneous outgrowth of true love which has an unconditional nature. It is not this or that, it is. It’s when you meet someone and you light up in the joy of meeting them. Not because they’re pretty or skinny or young or old or can play the piano, but because there’s a joyfulness in their presence. I think that when you teach from that level, when you teach from that level of truly seeing the whole person and truly responding to the whole person, you create an environment that is inspired for learning.

Introducing the Cutting Room Floor

Screen-Shot-2014-06-12-at-4.21.48-PM-e1428853648343

A common discussion among filmmakers is the ratio between the total duration of footage created for possible use in a project and that which actually appears in its final cut. This is known as the “shooting ratio”. Truth is, sometimes the best stuff ends up getting cut – random jokes, funny accidents, things that are just too intimate to share with a large audience…

We thought it might be fun to share some “lost” conversations from our transcripts. So, we’ve created a whole new blog category, “Cutting Room Floor”. We hope you love reading them as much as we loathed cutting them from the Tuning the Student Mind film!

See the Film