Mindfulness in the library

2017-09-20 04:25:30

As part of this year's ILI Extra activities, Matt Benzing, Engineering & Computing Librarian at Miami University,  is leading a mindfulness workshop at ILI. Here, Matt explains a little more about mindfulness and why librarians should consider adding it to their toolbox ...

Stop. Right now. What is going on in your mind? Fearing the future? Regretting the past? Thinking about what you’ll do this afternoon?  Wondering if the cast of Seinfeld is still sitting in that cell? Cursing that song that you can’t get out of your head, the one that plays on an endless loop?

Mindfulness meditation is an ancient art designed to tame that mischievous gremlin running rampant between your ears. We all have so many things going on at once in our heads, and a fair number of the voices shouting are not conducive to creative work. Mindfulness is a technique for silencing those voices, quieting the cacophony that so often renders us useless.

Mindfulness meditation was developed by Buddhists, but it is not dependent on any certain belief system or world view. Mindfulness meditation is not a relaxation technique, it is not a stress reduction tool. Rather, it is a means to achieving clarity…stilling the waters so that the detritus may settle and the clear light of reality may show through. If you are old enough to remember broadcast television, I think of it as learning to tweak that UHF dial until the snow disappears and you get a crystal clear image.

This is useful in many fields. How many of us find ourselves transfixed, like a deer in headlights, by the onslaught of duties and concerns that swamp us every day? Mindfulness gives us the tools to prioritise, to evaluate, to put aside distractions and focus on the task at hand.

So what does this have to do with libraries? Quite a bit. One of the advantages provided by the clarity gained in mindfulness is the ability to look upon things with a “beginner’s mind”. Despite their best efforts, librarians are often trapped by views of the world, views about how data should be distributed, and views of their own roles that are frozen in the amber of an earlier era.

Mindfulness gives the librarian the tools to break out of those outdated moulds, to see the world how it is, to find new ways of relating to patrons.

This session will go through the history and practice of mindfulness, how to utilise it to enhance creativity and innovation, and end with a mindfulness exercise before sending you on to enjoy the rest of the conference with a clear mind! 

Using mindfulness to prime your creativity takes place at ILI Extra from 14:15-15:15 on Tuesday 17 October. Open to ILI delegates only, sign up for the mindfulness workshop on site.

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