This page challenges you to take your learning beyond the classroom. There is a vast array of information to consume on wellbeing practices, injustices that impact wellbeing, and so on, but an important first step is to learn how to learn. By learning differently from the dominant models, we can already begin to challenge oppressive structures in our understandings of ourselves and the world. Holistic learning, for example, is the process of learning with your whole body, prioritizing experiential and intuitive wisdom, in contrast to Western rational modes of knowing. Another important learning strategy is the use of ’empathic imagination,’ especially when considering interpersonal differences and social issues. If we cannot engage our emotional hearts in our learning, that learning will not sink in very deeply. This integration process involves being present while we learn and can create more moments where connections are made, both internally in our minds, and then externally as we put that learning into action.
It is also important to know where to look for information, so we’ve compiled resources throughout this site for you to read and videos to watch. These can point you in the right direction, but the real learning happens in the embodied experiences of your daily life. Remember to focus on what resonates with you and leave the rest for another time, so that you avoid overloading yourself.
Practicing Embodied and Decolonial Learning
Dr. Joseph describes a process of discovery in the education system where she learned that “this was not a system designed for me,” and she began to ask herself what would it mean to learn with her body. She talks about embodied learning, which integrates thinking, learning and moving, as a foundation for decolonial practice insofar as imaging something different from our current colonial, capitalist system of education. She also speaks to the value of movement practices and being in the body as a way to slow down and reflect, and the value of play and getting dirty.
Learning How Our Worlds Are Created
Dr. Hewitt discusses the way in which our individual minds are actually social minds: the social institutions we are born into shape our attitudes and ways of thinking. She suggests looking at prejudices such as racism or homophobia psychoanalytically, by asking what psychological work those ideologies are providing for those who hold them. Thinking about an individual’s social context, personal story, and the function of their psychology is how Dr. Hewitt helps to engage students’ empathic imagination. Empathic imagination allows us to understand others without using pathologizing or colonialist narratives.
Interconnections in Thinking and Learning
Dr. Miller outlines the connection between intuitive and rational thinking, and invites listeners to consider holistic approaches to learning, for example making connections between subjects and different kinds of knowledge. He emphasizes that the more students are able to be present and see the interconnectedness of all things, the more they are able to integrate this learning with every part of their life, resulting in someone who is comfortable being their authentic self. Holistic education, according Dr. Miller, is about joy and love , which he explores in more depth in his book, Love and Compassion: Exploring Their Role in Education.
Evaluating Research on Complementary Therapies
Dr. Dias talks about the hierarchy of research studies in evidence based medicine that determines how to best evaluate the effectiveness of medical treatments. Typically, randomized control trials, double blind studies, and the like are considered the most legitimate. But when it comes to things like mindfulness, we need a new mode of evaluation. Dr. Dias proposes a model called ‘whole systems research,’ in which the entire research population is investigated, even the portion for whom the treatment was ineffective.
Learning from Disability Studies, Anti-Psychiatry, and Mad Studies
Efrat defines disability studies, anti-psychiatry, and mad studies. All three are different, but have in common the view that social determinants of health are important and overlooked by the mainstream medical world. Disability studies asserts that ‘disability’ comes not from the individual body but from ableist constructions in society; anti-psychiatry holds that psychiatric conditions are not medical disorders, and so psychiatry should be abolished; and mad studies is a broader collective of people who reclaim their madness in ways that feel right to them, whether that includes psychiatric diagnoses or not.
When Our Education Systems Don’t Serve Us
Efrat points out the way in which the education systems operate under privileged assumptions, expecting an unrealistic level of uniformity from their students and promoting the singular goal of productivity. Universities tend to off-put the responsibility of radical change by putting money into mindfulness or time-management workshops, but have yet to provide more than these superficial efforts. Due to institutional rigidity, a lot of the responsibility to be responsive to students’ needs falls on individual faculty members.
Technology as an Extension of the Mind
Jay explains how we can understand all technologies as extensions of human capacities. Modern technology extends the capacity of the thinking mind by contributing thoughts to it, such as advertisements and other content. Most of us would be distracted by thoughts with or without technology, but the onslaught of external thoughts creates much more to parse through and impacts the kinds of thoughts we have. This is contributing to disconnectedness and a worsening of mental health. Jay hopes that one day technology can lead us towards greater connection, but so far it seems to be the opposite.
Selected resources for learning more
Huberman Lab Podcast #57, Optimizing Workspace for Productivity, Focus, & Creativity: “In this episode, I discuss ways to set up your workspace to optimize productivity, focus and creativity. I discuss how to adjust light, physically arrange your work environment, and leverage body posture to enhance productivity. Additionally, I explore how to shift your work environment for particular types of tasks. Moreover, I review the role of body movement in the workspace. I also discuss sound-based tools that can either enhance or diminish cognitive functioning (the ability to focus on deep work). I describe a particular frequency of binaural beats that studies show can be used to enhance memory and recall. This episode covers quality peer-reviewed findings practical tools anyone can use, regardless of budget, in order to optimize their workspace to achieve heightened levels of productivity, increased alertness and focus, and creativity.”