There is no doubt that this has been a time of great upheaval and stress for students and faculty alike. But through it all, we are all seeking ways to try and make things better for ourselves and for others. When Ellen Katz (Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and instructor of NEW330 – Mindfulness-Informed Interventions for Mental Health) realized that during this time of uncertainty, students need more than just class instruction. She decided to use her time with them to give some comfort along with her lectures. In each of her classes, now being held through Zoom, Prof. Katz has conducted a short sitting. She has found this addition to her class time to be very impactful:
I have found that the sittings have brought students together in a very powerful way and allowed them to share some of their thoughts and feelings during this chaotic time. As a result of adding this element to my classes, I was humbled to see the sharing that went on amongst each class and wondered at the potential impact of a short sitting on a daily basis. When sent the Zoom invitations, I began hearing back from students that were indicating that they are grateful for such an opportunity to come together when they are feeling isolated as they stay home in the process of social distancing. They are indicating that they are feeling overwhelmed and scared. After the sittings in each of the two classes this week, the feedback was extremely positive and the smiles on the faces said it all.
Because there has been so much interest in the sittings, Prof. Katz has expanded them to all students in the Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health Program. Through these uncertain times, it’s important to remember there are many ways to look after each other – and many ways to feel connected.