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Mindfulness practices among TRIO professionals in higher education

Redmond, Chez S.
The purpose of this qualitative inquiry was to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of American higher education frontline workers in student affairs who reported regular use of mindfulness practices. Incorporating reflective practices like mindfulness on college campuses (Palmer, 2009) for frontline staff in student affairs, who work directly with students, could provide more opportunities to increase the awareness of these practices through staff development and staff training. Ten participants provided their experience in focus group interviews through Zoom. Within focus group interviews, written responses, and surveys, three major themes emerged from their understanding of their roles as frontline staff. These themes were: (1) the collective connection to “good” in student affairs; (2) the perception of mindfulness and equity in Higher Education; and (3) intentional care to the overall well-being of themselves and others. Flowing from thematic analysis of the data, this study’s findings divide into a two-pronged discussion regarding (1) consideration of contemplative practices within the organizational environment and (2) participant perspectives on the value of their mindfulness practices. This research suggests that mindfulness can improve the personal well-being of employees. Organizations can highlight in their mission the value of contemplative practices and recognize the awareness that spiritual capital supports employee resilience, that spiritual intelligence can strengthen an employee's internal psychological well-being. Recommendations from the study support learning opportunities, discussion of mindfulness practices, and intentional personal and collective reflective opportunities can increase awareness about the value and connection to student affairs frontline staff. These practices can create valuable insight into building a contemplative organization for higher education organizations.