Meditation and Service

Instructor Name: 
Jenna Padbury
Course Description: 

Meditation and mindful awareness encompass a philosophy of living with a quiet mind, open heart, and in service to others; they are our primary practices in this capstone. We will explore mindful awareness and meditation as foundations for personal, community, and global health and well being. Our meditative practices, ancient Eastern philosophy, racial equity, and social responsibility will inform how we engage in service learning. By serving with non-profit community partners we will practice empathy and compassion while deepening our understanding of housing and houselessness and their intimate connection to health and well-being.

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 their personal community

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


Community Involvement

There are two distinct components to the community involvement:  

1) The course partners with pre-determined organizations in Portland who are serving people experiencing homelessness. Students will typically be in direct service positions for a total of 16-20 hours throughout the term. Students are part of a small group and work together with their community partner organization. Students contribute to the well-being of the partners’ participants and they gain a greater understanding of community well being. Examples of small group service: cooking or serving a meal, sharing time in a day shelter, or packing lunches. 

2) Students work individually or as a small team to organize a community gathering with 5 or more people. This project allows students to fully integrate and adapt philosophies and practices introduced during the course while positively contributing to others’ health and well being.


Attendance, Participation and Engagement

A "Qigong state" connotes awareness, mindfulness, intent, and receptivity. We will strive to embody these principals in class and to do so requires attendance, participation and engagement (i.e. attention, questioning, listening, sharing, involvement). You are expected to turn in assignments in a timely fashion and participate in discussions and class exercises with integrity and an open mind.

Five Reflective Assignments

Reflection assignments are a tool to explore your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on subjects pertaining to the readings, class participation, and/or personal experience. You are encouraged to express yourself freely and dig deep to gain greater insight into yourself and the topic. You are given the option to reflect through prose, visual art, music, poetry, etc. You have written extensively by the time you are a senior in college, please consider expressing yourself through another medium.

Personal reflection may be a new concept. It is not an exercise in restating ideas you have read or heard but in considering your own ideas and beliefs in the context of what you are learning. Your work is not assessed on correct or incorrect ideas but for depth of reflection, insight, and self-awareness. Rather than focus on what you think might be the "right" response, trust and write from your own innate wisdom. In Qigong, it is said, "If you are comfortable, I will be comfortable."  

Meditation Practice [90 minutes per week] &  Five Personal Journals

Journals perform a variety of functions in this course. They serve to document your meditation practice and provide a means to reflect upon the experience inherent in that practice as well as the readings, class work, and community work. As with the reflection assignments, the journals are a tool for delving into your experience and deepening your awareness.


There are two format options for documenting and reflecting upon your practice. You can choose one or adapt them. You are free to use the same format throughout the term, experiment with both, or alternate with each assignment-it is up to you. Each journal will consist of your insights into your practice and "mini-reflections" pertaining to the readings and community work. I'll post questions for each journal to provide some focus to those reflections.

In addition, the journals provide valuable information that helps me teach to individual and group needs and are a great forum for posing questions that you may not feel comfortable or remember to ask in class. The format and function of the journals is more personal so they can be hand written.