In January of 2010, I sat in on a life-changing meeting about introducing meditation through an academic course at my college in Detroit.
The College for Creative Studies is an art school at its core but also offers liberal arts courses such as Molly Beauregard’s “Introduction to Sociology” class. As a 22 year-old film major, the social science credits were just another requirement to fulfill on my way to finishing my film degree. A blip along the road to the artistic career of my dreams. But Molly earned my vote of confidence and adoration by the way she treated her students and respected us as the young adults we were during our first semester together.
Most of us students were impressionable, idealistic and oftentimes distracted, disinterested, and disengaged. Molly captured our attention by memorizing every one of our names on the first day of class. She expressed genuine concern, love and passion to counter the weight of our rigorous academic demands and sometimes single-track focus on getting the grade or the coveted degree. Molly opened our minds to new ways of thinking about the world and about our places in it. And we loved her for it.
Even though I had never practiced meditation before, I was happy to sit by Molly’s side in front of her peers, members of the school counseling department, and the Chair of the Liberal Arts Department while she made a pitch at the aforementioned meeting. It was a pretty radical pitch for the time. Molly wanted to invite trained meditation teachers into her class to personally teach each student.
I didn’t quite realize the degree to which this notion might be rejected when Molly asked me to join her at the meeting. I certainly never expected angry fist-pounding as an initial response to Molly’s request. Although she had a small number of people at the college on board with the idea, the notion of meditation in the classroom was dismissed by high-level college officials mostly for the notion that it was a spiritual practice. It was clear to me right then that meditation must be a tremendously powerful thing.
I learned to meditate shortly after that meeting, which served as a turning point in my life. The start of greater confidence, consciousness and, to be quite sincere, a much improved experience for the remainder of college and in life beyond school. Before long, I found myself fighting alongside Molly for more students to receive a fair introduction to the practice. I changed my thesis project in order to make a short film on the benefits of meditation for students.
To my surprise, Molly’s class titled “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity” was approved to run for the first time during my last semester of school in 2011. I enrolled in the class, amazed at the array of students interested in learning how to cultivate a sense of their own inner identity. I felt close to them. Much closer than with the students in my other humanities classes. We folded ourselves into deep, three hour discussions. We meditated together every week. And, well…I’d tell you more but you’ll just have to watch the follow up to my senior film, Tuning the Student Mind.
Ultimately, I knew we had embarked on something new. Something groundbreaking and refreshing. And now after documenting the class for several years, I know that each student leaves Molly’s class feeling much more equipped to answer life’s bigger questions; “Who am I?” “Who do I want to be?” and “What do I have to offer to others?”
And really, what more could you ask for in your educational experience?
– Chelsea Richer
Film Director, Tuning the Student Mind