Dear College of Education Community,
As we begin the busy first week of Fall 2023, and have also been dealing with a tropical rainstorm, it is helpful to remember that we can engage in the practice of mindfulness meditation to manage pressures and stressors, as well as catastrophic events! Mindfulness meditation has been shown by research to have many benefits.
And here is the good news! CSUN offers free mindfulness meditation through the Calm app available to all CSUN employees. In addition to guided meditations, this app offers specialized music playlists to help with stress and focus, mindful movement video and audio, relaxing Sleep Stories, tailored content for students and for children, wisdom-filled masterclasses led by experts, and much more. You can view a brief video of Calm features here. Employees with Kaiser Permanente as their health plan provider already have access to Calm and may sign-up directly through Kaiser. All other state-side employees, including student employees, should simply follow the instructions below to gain full access to Calm:
To Get Started
- Visit the following link: Calm for CSUN Employees
- Sign up with your personal email address (or log in to an existing account)
- Validate your work email address or Employee ID
Once complete, you can download the Calm app and log into your new account. Your Calm subscription gives you unlimited access to the full library of content at calm.com and in the Calm app.
So what are some benefits to engaging in mindful meditation? An early article at the American Psychological Association website lists some research-based benefits as follows:
Stress reduction. Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress. In 2010, Hoffman et al. conducted a meta-analysis of 39 studies that explored the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes.
Boosts to working memory. Improvements to working memory appear to be another benefit of mindfulness, research finds ( Jha et al.).
Focus. Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants' ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information. The researchers compared a group of experienced mindfulness meditators with a control group that had no meditation experience. They found that the meditation group had significantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Moore and Malinowski, 2009).
Less emotional reactivity. Research also supports the notion that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity (Ortner et al., 2007).
More cognitive flexibility. Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also give them greater cognitive flexibility. Meditation also activates the brain region associated with more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations (Cahn & Polich, 2006; Davidson et al., 2003). Activation of this region corresponds with faster recovery to baseline after being negatively provoked (Davidson, 2000; Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000).
Relationship satisfaction. Several studies find that a person's ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction — the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one's emotions to a partner. Empirical evidence suggests that mindfulness protects against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflict (Barnes et al., 2007), is positively associated with the ability to express oneself in various social situations (Dekeyser el al., 2008) and predicts relationship satisfaction (Barnes et al., 2007; Wachs & Cordova, 2007).
Other benefits. Mindfulness has been shown to enhance self-insight, morality, intuition and fear modulation, all functions associated with the brain's middle prefrontal lobe area. Evidence also suggests that mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits, including increased immune functioning (Davidson et al., 2003; see Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004 for a review of physical health benefits), improvement to well-being (Carmody & Baer, 2008) and reduction in psychological distress (Coffey & Hartman, 2008; Ostafin et al., 2006). In addition, mindfulness meditation practice appears to increase information processing speed (Moore & Malinowski, 2009), as well as decrease task effort and having thoughts that are unrelated to the task at hand (Lutz et al., 2009).
To read more, go to: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner
There are many reasons to take advantage of the Calm app for phones and computers available for free to all CSUN employees!
For a list of other self-care options, please see our COE self-care website for resources for faculty, staff, students, and the community at:
May you have a wonderful and “calm” beginning to the new academic year!