We're a drop-in mindfulness meditation group open to all Caltech students. No previous experience is required; we offer techniques that are appropriate for everyone from newbies to more experienced meditators. There's no religious component: We offer secular practices that are, whenever possible, based in research.
We meet every Tuesday from 12:00 - 12:50 pm. Beginning on October 3rd, 2023, we'll be back in person in our new home, Hameetman Club Room 2 (bottom floor). For the remainder of the summer term in 2023, we'll meet via Zoom; you'll need to be logged into Zoom with your Caltech credentials to join.
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose), Meeting ID: 941 9763 1287
If you can't attend in person, we record each week's session and make it available as an MP3. You'll need Caltech IMSS credentials to log in. We're in the process of shifting the archive to this page, so keep checking back for additional past episodes.
What we're all about
We teach and practice four building blocks of emotional well-being as identified by researchers such as Richard Davidson from the Center for Healthy Minds.
- Resilience / rebounding from negative emotions
- Positive outlook
- Caring for others
These aren't inborn personality traits or abstract aspirations; they're skills that can be learned and practiced, and we teach them as such.
Resilience / rebounding from negative emotions
- We regularly practice the skill of equanimity - that is, bringing a sense of acceptance to experiences that we can't immediately change. You can't make yourself learn to play the piano overnight; you'll practice when you can, and at the same time you have to be ok with being where you are.
- We practice mindful awareness of our emotional states, which shows us that emotions are transient, and that there are multiple ways of engaging with emotions. We also practice not judging ourselves for having any particular emotion; our feelings don't define us.
- We regularly practice compassion for ourselves and others so we don't compound life's problems with harsh judgments that don't help.
- We regularly practice the skill of lovingkindness for ourselves and others. We practice wishing ourselves and others well-being on the basis of our common humanity, without engaging in moral judgments that can leave us feeling that well-being must first be earned or deserved.
- We also practice sympathetic joy - the skill of being happy for others' successes without comparing ourselves to others. This gives us an alternative to feelings of enviousness or jealousy.
- Every other week we practice the skill of mindful awareness - that is, paying attention nonjudgmentally to our experience in the present moment, and gently guiding our attention back when it strays. Staying aware of and attuned to our moment-by-moment experience helps us focus on the texture and color that's already there instead of drifting through our day.
Caring for others
- Our lovingkindness practice regularly includes other people - even (especially even) people whom we may find challenging or difficult. This helps us learn to respond to others on the basis of common humanity instead of deciding if someone earns or deserves our compassion and goodwill.
What to Expect
We use the term concentration practices to refer to the skills that teach us to pay attention, and we use the term heart practices to refer to the attitudes that we strive to bring to our experience.
What does this look like on a given day? It depends on which week of the month it is:
1st Tuesday of the month: This will be a concentration practice to build mindful awareness, usually focused on one specific thing such as feeling our breath in our body, hearing sounds around us, etc.
2nd Tuesday of the month: This will be one of the heart practices - lovingkindness, compassion, equanimity, or sympathetic joy.
3rd Tuesday of the month: This will be a broader concentration practice focused on all of our senses: What we can feel, see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and also our emotions and thoughts.
4th Tuesday of the month: This will again be one of the heart practices, almost always a different one than we practiced during the 2nd Tuesday.
5th Tuesday of the month: Fifth Tuesdays are rare, so when they show up we do something fun or something off the beaten path that we haven't done in a while. We've gone outside for a mindful walk, listened to music together, and even had some food together.
Our community is the container that makes all of this possible. Whether it's just 2 people or a dozen who are there each week, we always start with building connections with one another. Being part of a group with shared ideals is a lovely way to be less alone and more connected, and it makes it even easier to try out the skills involved with making ourselves and the world a little bit better.
At the time I'm writing this in Mid-August 2023, we've been going for just shy of 9 years. We've had over 370 meetings, and we'd love for you to come join us.
About the Facilitator
The sessions are facilitated by Lee Coleman, Ph.D., ABPP. Dr. Coleman is an experienced meditator and meditation facilitator. In 2015, he completed the one-year Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation training through the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. He has also trained with Dr. Zindel Segal, one of the creators of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Dr. Coleman is a member of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association, and has completed a total of 2 months of silent meditation retreats both in the US and internationally.