How can I help you?

I’m intrinsically interested in how we operate on a daily basis. How we get stuff done, how we take care of ourselves, how we create meaning in our lives and how we feel along the way. It’s a lot to bring together and it’s hard to make it all happen sometimes.

mindfulness practice is part of my daily flow

I think of it as creating our daily flow because time keeps moving no matter what we do. Things tend to ebb and flow in our lives and in our days. We need to get good at shifting our focus while keeping ourselves centered. I think most of us want to feel “in flow” with ourselves and those around us. In the work we do, in our families and relationships, in our community. We all want to create a daily flow that works for us. Being intentional in our daily choices is key to making this happen.

That’s where I come in. As a self-care strategist and well-being coach, we’ll start by getting clear on your priorities. What do you all have on your plate? What needs to stay and what needs to go? We’ll do an inventory of your habits, work modes and daily structure. We’ll pinpoint areas of strength and those in need to fine-tuning and focus. Together we’ll develop a plan of action to more fully operationalize yourself on a daily basis, while feeling great doing it.

You will create an ideal weekly flow, that together, we will bring to fruition. Little by little, you will solidify the habits, routines and rituals that will best support you in life. By getting clear on our needs and desires, we pave the way toward greater satisfaction and fulfillment.

Helping you to develop a mindfulness practice is at the core of this process and work. Learning to be more mindful has the potential for extraordinary benefits on so many levels. As we become more in-tune with ourselves and take actions that support our well-being, we bring ourselves to an entirely new level of existence. Being aware. Cultivating that awareness, moment by moment, not only brings us closer to ourselves, but to our true nature and reason for being.

Mindful Scholar

So excited to be sharing the benefits of mindfulness with our McNair community. Learning how to be present is probably one of the greatest gifts we can cultivate. I look forward to being on this journey with each of you!

The simple practice of breathing with our students is planting a seed with potential to ground ourselves in the present moment and more gracefully handle the ebb and flow of daily life in all its beauty and challenge.

Mindfulness is present moment awareness. It’s one of the most important skills we can cultivate because it teaches us to BE.

We spend a lot of time doing. Because we have a lot to do!

School teaches us how to THINK + DO really well and becoming a critical thinker is a large part of what pursuing a Ph.D. is all about.

The problem emerges when we spend most of our time thinking and doing and not enough time being. The truth is we spend a lot of time inside our heads, and sometimes, it’s just not the friendliest place to be!

Consider yourself and your students. How easy is it to be carried away by the ticker tape in our minds, telling us we’re not good enough, not smart enough, or that the world might be ending, right? Our minds tend to be a constant stream of commentary often feeding into our stress and anxiety.

What mindfulness brings into focus is a counterbalance to all this thinking and doing. It teaches us to be in our bodies by using our senses and focal points, such as the breath, and helps shift into an alternate mode … that of simply BEING.

The #mindfulscholar movement invites us to breathe together on a regular basis.

Breathe with our students. Explore meditation and yoga. Talk about how we feel in our bodies, when we’re feeling well and when we’re dealing with stress. Let’s invite exploration + conversation on this important topic and how becoming more mindful can make a huge difference in our academics and life!

Joy habit

Today I’m inspired by the lovely Dr. Kerry Ann Rockquemore. She inspires me in lots of ways, but today I want to talk about a little concept she’s been sharing that she calls the joy habit. It’s basically leaning into that state of gratitude for things in our lives, good and bad, and cultivating joy. So much so that it ultimately morphs into a way of BEING.

Living joy, if you will.

And it’s more than just happiness. Being happy is a great emotion to have, but it’s fleeting. I think this idea of being in a joy state couples nicely with learning to cultivate greater mindfulness in our daily lives. One of the things mindfulness teaches us is non-attachment and using our senses to simply be in the present moment more often than not.

That heightened level of cognizance can become a wonderful foundation for cultivating a joy habit. Lots of crappy things happen everyday too. So how do we keep our foundation of joy despite what Kerry Ann describes as our world being structurally oriented to separating ourselves from it?

Great question! Again, bringing back this aspect of mindfulness and growing that skill (it is a skill that we can learn + enhance) can help us to sit with all of the stuff less joyful in life. Daily stressors, hardships, serious issues in our local communities and on the other side of the globe.

Becoming more mindful teaches us to be with what is without trying to change it. We can acknowledge any less than ideal reality that might be swirling about in our face at the moment and still ground ourselves in joy.

It’s tricky and seems counterintuitive, right?

I’m no expert, but as I develop my own daily meditation practice and share insights with others doing the same, incorporating this idea of cultivating JOY as a way of being seems really cool. It must since I created this little graphic below a few months ago using a photo from my very first photoshoot!

stuffed animals from the kiddios galore! AKA “the guys”

So as I’m moving forward in my own journey of mindfulness and encouraging others to do the same (#mindfulscholar #356mindfuldays), I’m going to be further experimenting with cultivating JOY as my backdrop, my foundation, my inner compass pointing me toward all that is good, and not so good, in life.

Mindful Way Through Depression

I share a lot of resources with my students, and this book, The Mindful Way Through Depression, is one of them. Given to me by my therapist well over ten years ago now, it’s probably one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

Having completed graduate work myself (as a first generation college student nonetheless) and now working in higher education, I’m acutely aware of many of the challenges students face in completing their degrees. As a McNair director, the central charge of my work is to encourage low income, first generation and underrepresented students to pursue Ph.D.’s. This path is not for the faint of heart, nor is it the best path for a lot of people, but for those who feel called to be a creator of knowledge, it’s the only way to go. As such, I’ve grown even more interested in learning more about what these journeys are like for our students, as well as questioning the very nature of academia and the extreme stress and hardship that many endure.

Just google “graduate students and mental health” and you’ll find various articles on the topic, highlighting recent studies pointing to higher rates of anxiety and depression among the graduate student population. The experience of graduate school is a complex one, and certainly one that is unique to each individual given their program, area of study, quality of mentors and advisors, peers and support networks. It’s complicated and many factors impact the process, but my bottomline question is: does it have to be this way and what can we do to alleviate some of the suffering?

Suffering is a strong word, I know. But having recently witnessed about forty or so Ph.D. graduates of color share their experiences achieving their degree, I would say suffering is an accurate term. These students persevered, and we should be thankful because we need their voices, but at the same time, should the process really have to entail traveling to the darkest depths of one’s soul in order to persevere?

I’m typing off the top of my head here, but I think this to be a legitimate question. I also realize this isn’t necessarily the case for all students; however, it seems to be a legitimate concern for many.

Coming back to the topic at hand then, addressing the issue of mental health in graduate education and using all resources and approaches available, this notion of mindfulness and how it can help students maintain greater health and wellness is a useful one. I personally suffered from my most significant bout of depression post-grad school; I also utilized many different tools in dealing with it, including medication and exercise, as well as experimenting with mindfulness meditation.

More Ph.D. students are talking about this important topic and I’m really happy about that. As a matter of fact, part of my writing along this topic area is an opportunity to contribute to this conversation through The PhDepression. I’ve always been interested in helping our students explore the benefits of mindfulness, through yoga and more recently, through meditation. And so I’m really excited to be able to reach an even greater number of students, to provide support and encouragement in their graduate journeys, and help pass along resources + tools that I’ve personally found absolutely transformative in my own journey.

I welcome your thoughts! Please feel free to email me at lynn.curry.619@gmail.com or use the contact form on this site. I’ll be sharing more experiences and conversations as I revisit this important text, The Mindful Way Through Depression, and perhaps go even deeper into my own continuing struggles.

My process. Step two.

Yesterday I wrote about “step one” in the process I help people explore as they work toward elevating the level of self-care in their life. It seems so easy, doesn’t it? Self-care seems like a no brainer. We’re in the business of higher education after all, aren’t we? We can all intellectually understand the importance + need for self-care in our lives. Certainly.

Then why can is be such a challenge?

I’m hoping to unravel if just a hint of knowing on this question as I support and work with individuals on this journey. I don’t know the answer. I have some hypothesis that I’d like to explore however (smile).

So back to the process. The first step is “taking pause” throughout your day so that you can begin to notice more things about yourself. About how you feel at certain times during the day. About how the choices you are making impact the way you feel. This first step is becoming more in tune with self. By paying attention to your breath and your body. Once we actually start slowing down, the knowledge will surface.

Step two is becoming clear on our current self-care status. There are infinite layers when it comes to self-care, but I like to hunker down on the basics to start. We all have to eat. We all have to sleep. And we all need to move. I know for some, that last one is debatable (smile). My goal is to help bring each of these important areas into greater focus.

The truth is, we all have basic needs. And when we meet these needs we can function at our best. We can probably ignore some of these needs for a period of time, and still function (although likely sub-optimally), but in the end, this approach will catch up with us, like it or not.

get clear on your current state of self-care.

Getting a baseline read on our baseline categories of self-care is essential. Just a simple rating, on a scale of one to ten, will do. For me, at this moment in time, I’m at about 5 in the eat category, about a 5 or 6 in the sleep category and more like an 8 in the exercise department. I know I need to focus on my food choices because they haven’t been the best. They’ve been on autopilot for a while now, and while they haven’t been horrible, I know I’m not feeling or operating at my best because of I’ve been letting this area in my life go.

You can add in any other major area of life in your baseline self-care assessment if you like. Another category you might consider is friends/family/relationships. Or how are you doing on the spiritual side of things, however you might define it. Money is another big one. 

But again, I find keeping things simple, especially to start works best. Spend a day or two contemplating how you’re doing in these key areas. How are your choices making you feel on a daily basis? What ideas come to mind for how you might enhance your foundational self-care? Get clear on where you’re at so that you can start to envision where you want to go.

P.S. as much as this might be possible for you, try not to judge yourself and where you’re at. super easy for me to say and suggest, but truthfully, getting down on yourself isn’t going to serve you. be okay with what is because you are beautiful with imperfection abound. try to keep this in mind as you move forward in crafting your vision and your foundation for growth.