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  • mjgfurnell

A journey of 1,000 miles (or more like 1,500 days) starts with a single step.

Updated: Feb 12

As some of you may know I recently started my journey towards getting a PhD. It’s an exciting and somewhat daunting road ahead which I hope to complete in around 4-5 years!

Like with any journey of 1,000 miles (or in this case around 1,500 days!), it begins with a single step. I suppose the very first step of any PhD journey is finding something you are passionate about and want to pursue. For me, that was meditation: more specifically the positive impact that meditation can have on students’ well-being, compassion, and sense of belonging.

I won’t get into too much detail here about my actual PhD research but rather want to walk you through the process of this journey step by step in the hope it may help, inspire and maybe even entertain you.

However, I think a bit of context is needed before we continue.

In a broad sense there are three main distinct yet interconnected types of meditation:

  1. The first type focuses on “presence” which is commonly considered as mindfulness practice in the West. It includes meditations such as focusing on the breath or body scans, with the result being awareness in the present moment.

  2. The second type focuses on “affect” which can be understood as our emotional regulation and way of being. This includes meditations on loving-kindness or compassion, and these help us to develop a caring attitude, as well as the ability to deal with our emotions.

  3. The third type focuses on “perspective” which is about gaining insight into our concept of self, emptiness, and inter-being. It can help us understand the interconnectedness of all things to change our outlook and actions.

In an educational setting, “presence” meditations such as mindfulness have been used for over a decade. Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of mindfulness on students’ ability to focus, pay attention, and even manage anxiety and stress. There is no doubt that these things are meaningful and important, however, there has been very little research done into what other meditations, such as loving-kindness and compassion meditations, or meditations on interconnectedness and inter-bring can have on students.

This is the research gap I hope to explore, to see how different types of meditation don’t only impact students’ attention or emotional regulation abilities but to explore how they can positively affect students’ well-being, compassion, and sense of belonging.

After finding my area of interest, my spark of passion if you will, it was time for my first real challenge, finding a suitable PhD supervisor. A task that was much more challenging than I had first imagined.

To be continued...

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