Saturday, October 28, 2017

An Education in Mindfulness


Anil Jethmal graduated from Bowdoin College in 1987 with a degree in Economics.  While he feels fortunate to receive his education from an institution that perennially ranks as one of the top ten in U.S News and World Report’s Best College Report, Anil wishes there was one class offered back then that is offered now.

During a recent summer vacation in Maine with his family, Anil Jethmal decided to visit his alma mater.  During his tour of the campus, Anil noticed a “new” building.  The Peter Buck Center for Health and Wellness had opened and been available to students starting in September of 2009.  It was a stunning facility, to be sure.  However, what really caught Anil Jethmal’s attention was the fact that it was also where a course titled Mindfulness in Education was taught.  The course, Anil was told, focuses on the ancient eastern arts of mindful wellness through activities such as yoga, meditation and mindful eating.

At first blush, one might surmise that the course is a “gut” (college term for easy class), especially when one considers that Bowdoin College is an institution that is known to have a rigorous curriculum.  Anil Jethmal asked his tour guide that very question.  He was told that quite the opposite is the case.  Bowdoin College students are used to digesting large amounts of information and writing hundreds of pages of term papers on a regular basis.  And while “Mindfulness in Education” does require a lesser degree of those demands, Anil Jethmal was told, it focuses on a mindful awareness and rewiring of personal habits….a much more difficult endeavor to learn and master for those who have not had any prior experience or training.

As an individual steeped in the world of high finance and all of its pressures, Anil Jethmal discovered many years ago the value of mindfulness.  Anil’s particular brand of mindfulness was self-taught due to an occupational hazard of constant pressure and stress. During his Bowdoin tour, Anil couldn’t help but envy those who have the opportunity to study this art under much more idyllic conditions.  However, more overwhelming, was a sense of pride that his alma mater, Bowdoin College, widely recognized as among the best, if not the best, had taken it up a notch.

Of Indian descent, but virtually a lifelong New Yorker, Anil Jethmal is often asked about the caste system in India.   Many confuse the ...