2015 CCCC Convention My Convention

Session Details

Better Breathers are Better Learners

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Session Code: A.24
Area Cluster: 12-First Year Composition
Type of Session: Concurrent
Level: 4-year
Abstract: This panel explores connections among mindfulness, meditation, and yoga with writing pedagogy to help strengthen student writing.
Description: Better Breathers are Better Learners

This panel explores connections among mindfulness, meditation, compassion, and yoga, with writing pedagogy as a way to help our students deeply engage as writers, readers, and thinkers. Our goal, then, as composition instructors is to help our students pay careful attention to all texts, as well as to the world, using their minds, bodies, and their breath as a way to strengthen their writing, their voices, and their sense of self, that they can develop in the classroom and then transfer beyond the classroom, enriching their ability to think critically and engage with the world around them.

Speaker 1:

Piecing Together Peace: A Grammar and Rhetoric of Mindfulness in the Writing Classroom

This paper builds on the arguments of Kenneth Burke and Aristotle that peace and eudaimonia are the ultimate ends to which all rhetoric seeks. Using Burke’s dramatism as an analytical framework, Speaker 1 queries how we might view the writing classroom as a dramatistic scene, one that is in the service of teaching rhetoric as a means to peace. Additionally, in light of Rick Hanson’s recent research in neuropsychology and neuroplasticity—and to create a pedagogical euphony by teaching motives of peace through actions of peace—this paper explores the potential uses and benefits of mindfulness practices in the writing classroom as a means of doing the work of Burke’s rhetoric. Explicit in Burke’s rhetoric of peace are identification and transformation as a means to happiness (Grammar 292). What is implicit in this paradigm—which this paper aims to make explicit—is the necessary precursor for a rhetor to be able to identify with and transform their audience: we must first be able to identify with ourselves and be open to self-transformation. Mindfulness practices are a way in which we can accomplish this. Ultimately, then, mindfulness practices allow us to construct a grammar and a rhetoric between our minds and our bodies that approaches physical and symbolic peace both inwardly and outwardly.

Speaker 2:

Transforming Mind, Body and Writing: Incorporating Mindfulness and Yoga into the Writing Classroom

As has recently been shown in multiple studies (Schubiner, Hawhee, Bolte-Taylor), writing is a complex activity that uses both the mind and body; Speaker Two has integrated a writing pedagogy that pays attention to the whole self. Through experiences as a yoga teacher and practitioner, Speaker 2 has learned the importance of building and reflecting on her strengths, weaknesses and abilities to create change and observe how she embodies these. As a result, she has learned to adjust and adapt her practice each day, in attuning and listening to both mind and body, which has transformed her both on and off the mat, as well as in her writing and teaching. For our students, who are incredibly immersed in a fast-paced, digital realm who often do not take the time to breathe and connect, Speaker 2 has developed an embodied approach to teaching writing, including the use of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga as part of a process to help students strengthen their writing, writing process, and their own sense of being mindful and attentive, to their writing, in the classroom, and to the world around them, with which they communicate outside the classroom.

Speaker 3:

Compassionate Habits: The Implementation of Self-Compassion and Mindfulness Meditation within the Writing Classroom

Scholars such as Kristin Neff (psychology), Sue Kraus (psychology), Sharon Sears (psychology), Leslie McClain (education), and Kate Garretson (composition), along with Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh, have explored various ways that meditation and self-compassion may be helpful in a variety of learning contexts. This presentation draws on scholars from multiple disciplines to discuss the use of meditation practices that focus on self-compassion strategies for the writing classroom, centering on this question: How might mindfulness meditation and self-compassion exercises help students improve their writing practices in the first-year writing classroom? To explore this question, Speaker 3 will explore Hanh’s “Four Immeasurable Minds” (loving-kindness, joy, compassion, and equanimity) and the aforementioned scholars. Additionally, Speaker 3 will discuss the ways in which self-compassion and mindfulness practices can help students self-consciously engage and explore non-cognitive dimensions associated with writing that the Framework for Success in Post-Secondary Writing (CWPA, NCTE & NWP – 2011) promotes. Through writing pedagogy that applies self-compassion exercises and mindfulness meditation, such as mindful breathing and focused reflective writing activities, students can be more aware of the ways they tap into the Framework’s “Habits of Mind”. These habits include Curiosity, Openness, Engagement, Creativity, Responsibility, and Flexibility (Framework, 2011, pp. 8-9), as they practice the writing they do in the writing classroom, which emphasizes qualities of engagement and creativity in focused writing. In addition, self-compassion exercises such as Neff’s “Self-Compassionate Letter” activity (Neff, The Science of Self-Compassion, 2012) further promote the Framework’s “Habits of the Mind” by providing students with a non-cognitive space where they experience deeper and more meaningful learning within the writing classroom and beyond.

This session also includes a respondent to the presentations.


  • Chair: Asao Inoue University of Washington, Tacoma -
  • Speaker: Emily Beals California State University, Fresno - Compassionate Habits: The Implementation of Self-Compassion and Mindfulness Meditation within the Writing Classroom
  • Speaker: Jennifer Consilio Lewis University - Transforming Mind, Body and Writing: Incorporating Mindfulness and Yoga into the Writing Classroom
  • Speaker: Jeremiah Henry California State University, Fresno - Piecing Together Peace: A Grammar and Rhetoric of Mindfulness in the Writing Classroom
  • Respondent: Susan Naomi Bernstein Arizona State University -


  • Thursday 3/19 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM in Marriott, Marriott, Meeting Room 8, Level Three

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