Serenity, the Brain and OLC Innovate

By

Clark Shah-Nelson, University of Maryland – Baltimore,
OLC Innovate 2019 Conference Co-chair

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Serenity LodgeLast year, after OLC Innovate 2018 in Nashville, the steering committee got together to talk about things we’d like to try next or do differently for 2019. One of the resonating ideas was to create a “quiet space” where folks can recharge their internal energy, take a break, and relax away from all the stimuli. I don’t know about you, but I get overstimulated! The idea took off and was first introduced at OLC Accelerate in 2018 as the Sanctuary, with aromatherapy, mellow ambiance, coloring books, a tea station, and just… quiet. Now, for OLC Innovate 2019 in Colorado, we’ll iterate on that a bit and bring you another opportunity to get away for a few minutes or an hour, in the Serenity Lodge (Mitzner room).

Why a Quiet Space?

Whether you would call yourself an introvert or extrovert or ambivert or wherever you find yourself, now and again you might find it conducive to get some peace and quiet, to reflect on some of the ideas and conversations you have been hearing, and just get to a space that is not filled with so much stimulus. While your hotel room may be such a space, it is typically pretty far away from everything. The Serenity Lodge will be easily accessible, and you can take that opportunity to recharge while still jumping back into nearby sessions. For those who use the space for meditation, recent neuroscientific studies have shown benefits of meditation for the brain, as well as for emotional regulation (Tang, Hölzel & Posner, 2015), self-awareness and therefore, education (Berkovich-Ohana, Jennings, & Lavy, 2019). So it appears that taking some time for quiet and reflection will be helpful to digest and internalize some of the many awesome ideas you will hear about at the conference!

What is in the Serenity Lodge?

The lodge offers subdued stimuli reminiscent of visiting a spa. It will feature comfortable seating, a tea station, soft ambient lava lighting and sounds, aromatherapy, colorful water beads to run your fingers through, a way to recharge your devices, and even meditation cushions and scheduled meditation sessions in the morning, lunch time, and afternoon (check the schedule below!)

What can I do in the Serenity Lodge?

While we ask that the space not be used for telephone conversations and to keep face-to-face conversation to a minimum or at a very low level, it’s a great space to relax, kick back with a cup of tea and enjoy some inward facing time, close your eyes, maybe even catch a few quick z’s! (I drifted off at Accelerate for a few minutes…) Enjoy the serenity!

Meditation Sessions

For those who would like a short, non-denominational, guided meditation, you can join me for some guided mindful meditations that emphasize non-judgemental awareness, openness and equanimity. We’ll feature time to decompress, reconnect mind and body, and practice some self-care as we turn our focus inward for a short while:

Tuesday, April 2             12:15pm – 12:45pm

Wednesday, April 3        7:30am – 8:00am; 12:00pm – 12:30pm; 3:00pm – 3:30pm

Thursday, April 4            7:30am – 8:00am; 12:00pm – 12:30pm; 3:00pm – 3:30pm

Friday, April 5                 7:30am – 8:00am

References

Berkovich-Ohana, A., Jennings, P. A., & Lavy, S. (2019). Contemplative neuroscience, self-awareness, and education. Progress in brain research, 244, 355-385. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.10.015

Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213.

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