Getting Undergrad Students to Meditate on Their Own
Getting Undergrad Students toPractice Meditation On Their OwnMaria Molﬁno11/13/12mmolﬁno@stanford.edu
why I’m an expert in this area• done over 500 hours of training in yoga and meditation (YA certiﬁed)• been practicing yoga since I was 15 - sustained a yoga practice as an undergraduate student• been practicing breathing meditation for 3 + years• been teaching breathing meditation to students for the last 2.5 years at Stanford• background in psychology, behavior sciences, and neuroscience of meditation
students I am focusing on• WHO: female juniors at Stanford• WHAT: a 20 minute set breathing meditation practice• WHEN/HOW OFTEN: at least 4 days/week• WHERE: in their own dorm room• WHY: to help manage the stress
what I did first• I focused on one of my students, Lina, who is enrolled in a meditation breathing course for academic credit at Stanford• I wrote out 20-30 concrete behaviors I would like Lina to do in association with her practice - they ranged in effectiveness and easiness• I ﬁgured out which of these behaviors were of highest priority by mapping them out ... just like...
...this! Very effective in getting Lina to practice 4 days/ week highest priority behaviors are hereNo way. We can’t get Lina to do this Yes! We can get Lina to do this feasibility impact Not effective in getting Lina to practice 4 days/ week
here in digital... Very effective in getting Lina to practice 4 days/ week let’s make this one our “target anchors her practice behavior” in another routine sends an email to her behavior she does teacher to conﬁrm she goes to an 4x/week (P) has done her practice for 1 quarter (S) advanced course to deepen her practices a very tests at least 3 congratulates understanding of routinized version different sitting writes in her herself every time of her practice for props for 1 weekNo way. We can’t get Lina to do this journal effects of she ﬁnishes her 1 week (S) (S) not doing practice Yes! We can get Lina to do this practice (P) choose a list of 3 days/week (P) writes in her tests at least 3 rewards to give writes a plan to different sitting practices with journal any effects attends weekly takes a breathing herself if she scores routinize her postures for 1 another person 4X of her practice follow up group course for 4/4 for the week (D) practice (triggers, week (S) week in her dorm. 4days/week (P) sessions for a academic credit sitting, etc.) (D) (P) quarter (S) for a quarter (S) reads a scientiﬁc chooses from a list of article on the options a spot in her beneﬁts of dorm she would do it meets and speaks the most (D) to person who breathing (D) originally designed the gets closest choose from a list posts her reason friends to learn of tiny for loving her the same practice celebrations to do practice on her (D) right after her dorm wall (D) gets doormates to feasibility chooses from a list of rewards to learn the same practice (D) give herself if she scores 4/4 (D) chooses from a list impact time periods she organizes a “learn picsks one friend would like to practice to breathe” of family member the most (D) session in her to speak regularly dorm (D) about it (P) writes down all the sets up a visual reasons she loves trigger in her dorm her practice in her to remind her of notebook (D) her practice (D) sets up a calendar reminder for her practice (D) Not effective in getting Lina to practice 4 days/ week
lead up to the target behavior After picking a “target behavior” - I mapped out the the other behaviors that would lead her to it. anchors her practice in another routine behavior she does 4x/week the next day, Lina does her home practice right after this habit sheʼs target behavior identiﬁed Lina decides on her most solid habit Lina opens an emailrequesting her to make a list of her top 3 (most stable) daily habits
tested if this would workI sent her the following clear steps in an email on 11/11/12:
results• Lina responded on 11/11 and agreed via email telling me she would make the list the next day• Lina made her list and sent it to me on 11/12 - she decided that making her bed was her most solid behavior• the following day, on 11/13, she emailed me conﬁrming she did her practice: “Hi Maria I did the practice about 45 minutes ago but had to sprint to breakfast before they closed. I got a bit delayed cause my mom called me right as I was making bed hehe but well i did it :)”
discussion and insights• itʼs not clear that she did her practice right after she made her bed and whether such a tight sequencing is needed.• her accountability to me was probably the biggest factor in making her do it, i.e., providing her the needed structure and/or “social pressure” - especially given itʼs not clear whether making her bed was a sufﬁcient trigger.• since the practice takes 25 min., consider identifying anchor behaviors that occur between classes (when she returns to her dorms) or in the evenings versus in the morning when she is pressed for time• Next steps: interview with her to ﬁgure out the relationship between making her bed and doing the practice - and maybe testing other anchors during her day.