"Mindfulness involves being aware in a certain way: conscious, in the present moment and without judgment. Based on this basic attitude, the American professor of medicine and molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the secular training format Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at Massachusetts University Hospital in 1979. As part of the Thuringian Mindfulness Universities model, this was adapted to the special needs of universities in the period from 2015 to 2019 by means of target group-specific training formats.
The resulting supra-regional cooperation platform Mindful Universities researches the effects of mindfulness and meditation in a changing, digitalised university landscape. More than 300 university members from Germany, Austria and Switzerland participate in the platform (as of 2020). At European level, the cooperation platform is active in the Erasmus + Programme Training Embodied Critical Thinking (2020-2023).
The aim is to clarify how target group-specific mindfulness training can improve the ability to deal with disruptive transformation processes (digitisation, globalisation, corona and climate crisis, etc.) in a prudent, sustainable and socially balanced way and strengthen the motivation to promote salutogenic personal development at universities.
In a first step, a conceptual framework for establishing the supra-regional cooperation platform Mindful Universities was created based on the findings of the Thuringian model Mindful Universities (2015-2019). This was tested and further developed in three working meetings in 2018 and 2019. In a second step, a systematic inventory analysis of existing mindfulness practices at universities in Germany will be conducted on the basis of the current state of international mindfulness, transformation and digitisation research. The third step will be the evidence-based further development of mindfulness training in the areas of teaching/learning, leadership/management and administration/service provision at selected universities in Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony and Thuringia, among others.
The contact person for the project at the University of Erfurt is Dr. Birgit Jäpelt. Within the framework of the project, she offers regular meditations ("laboratory on a seat cushion"), but also systemic counselling.