UCSC is proud to host its Annual Workshop virtually in 2022. The theme of this year’s workshop is Inspiring Hearts and Minds.
The University Classified Staff Council (UCSC) kicked off the annual workshop this year which focuses on inspiring hearts and minds with the first session titled Mindfulness for resiliency in times of uncertainty. Attendees logged into WebEX on March 31, 2022 to hear distinguished guest speaker Justine Fanarof, speak about mindfulness and the effects of stress on the body. Fanarof is an attorney, mediator, yoga/mindfulness teacher, consultant, and coach whose work is grounded in a lifetime of personal practice.
At the start of the session, Fanarof engaged attendees by asking them to submit to the group things they needed from the session, things they were grateful for, and a thing they hoped or wished for. From audience participation, Fanarof showed that every attendees was focused on a different priority or concern in their life, but their approach to the practice of mindfulness could be and is a unifying experience. In today’s world, individuals are often filled with stress and anxiety. This stress is disruptive to our health and well-being. Fanaorf introduced the idea of movement as a way to cope with stress. “In order to interrupt the stress cycle to keep it from mounting in our bodies is to do things that move the body.” Fanarof said.
To help attendees focus on positive aspects of their lives amid the stress they might be experiencing, Fanarof invited session attendees to write down a list of current worries or concerns they might have on one side of a piece of paper. Next attendees wrote down a list of things that helped them positively complete the stress cycle. For many attendees, getting outside for fresh air and sunshine made a positive impact on their wellbeing. For others, spending time with their pets was an excellent way to destress.
Fanarof then led participants through seated meditation and stretch poses. While breathing slowly and calming the mind of thoughts was one way to meditation, Fanarof mentioned that there are many different ways to meditation, a lot of them that involve movement. She then invited participants into a guided practice of calming movements such rolling shoulders and raising arms while practicing relaxed breathing. One participant mentioned that meditation has always been difficult for them as sometimes negative thoughts enter into their meditation time. “When the bad thoughts occur, let the thought ‘be’; don’t try and stop it,” Fanarof said. This exercise in accepting thoughts without automatically jumping to combat or compartmentalize them was helpful to Fanarof, she explained.
The session concluded with the meditation session and further discussion on good mindfulness practices.
UCSC looks forward to three more sessions in its Inspiring Hearts and Minds Annual Workshop Virtual Series!
All UTHealth Houston employees who would like mental health or other wellbeing assistance are encouraged to reach out to the Employee Assistance Program at 713-500-3327 or go.uth.edu/eap.