Meditation and Service

Instructor Name: 
Jenna Padbury
Course Description: 

We will practice and grow in our understanding of mindful meditation and awareness as a foundation for personal and global healing. Meditation is a practice that encompasses a philosophy of living with a quiet mind, open heart, and in service to others. Learners will cultivate their own mindful meditation practice 6 days a week for 15-20 minutes a day. Together we will explore the connections between ancient Eastern philosophy, personal healing, and social responsibility. Service-learning with our non-profit community partners gives context to the course materials and our mindfulness practice. Equally important, it provides an opportunity to experience present moment awareness while deepening learners’ experiential understanding about the social determinants of health and their influence on individuals, communities, and society as a whole. 

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Acquire knowledge about and experience in mindfulness meditation and philosophy

  • Investigate the concept of personal and community health and well being

  • Coordinate with community partners and classmates throughout their service learning experience

  • Share and adapt knowledge about meditation and/or relevant topics related to social responsibility with people in the larger community

  • Apply mindfulness principles in the class, at their community service site, and in a team environment

An infographic using 8 icons to represent each of the social determinants  of health… | Public health career, Community health nursing, Social  determinants of health

Community Involvement

The course partners with pre-determined organizations in Portland who are serving people experiencing barriers to the social determinants of health. All service happens in teams. Service opportunities vary from term to term. Past examples service include the following:

  • contributing to social media campaigns that relate to our course themes and our community partner's mission
  • disrupting or preventing social isolation by visiting with individuals 
  • creating an electronic library of memorial resources
  • creating small group gatherings to share information and practice mindful awareness
  • being a conversation partner with people learning English
  • supporting the basic needs of people experiencing houselessness such as food, clothing, hygiene

The instructor contacts learners about 2 weeks before the course begins to ensure they are available for and interested in the service that has been arranged for the term. 

Attendance and Ongoing Engagement

Mindful awareness is the practice of being present moment to moment on purpose. We will integrate that practice and spirit in all that we do together. Learners will engage with their own mindful meditation practice and course materials most days of the term. The learning community gathers for class two days a week, in addition there is a service commitment outside of the scheduled class time. Preparing in advance, participating in small and full group discussions and activities, and working cooperatively with your colleagues in small service teams are all ways learners will be active and present throughout the term. 

Critical Reflection Assignments

Critical reflection is a lifelong practice and it might be new to some learners. It is a learning strategy intended to integrate and explore your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on subjects pertaining to the course materials, class activities, and/or personal experience. Learners are encouraged to consider deeply their experience with course themes to gain greater insight into themselves and the impact of the capstone experience might have. Critical reflection is not an exercise in simply restating ideas you have read or heard. Instead, it is an opportunity to consider your own ideas and beliefs in the context of what you are learning. Critical reflections are often thought of as a dialogue between the learner, the course materials, and the wider world. Your work is not assessed on correct or incorrect ideas but for depth of reflection, insight, and self-awareness.