At The University of Toledo, students are gaining a skill that’s unique in many ways — how to tap into their creativity using mindfulness practices.The Mindfulness and Creativity Initiative, led by UT Senior Lecturer Jay Rinsen Weik, is relatively new at the University but growing rapidly. It involves using mindfulness — the ability to be in the moment, focused and aware — to be more creative and innovative.
“The best creativity comes from a mind that is clear,” Weik said. “What I’m doing is taking these two different fields and showing that they are integrated.”
This initiative allows Weik to combine two of his passions. A senior lecturer in the Department of Music, Weik teaches musical improvisation and jazz, but he also is a recognized American Zen teacher.
Part of the initiative involves hosting symposia, workshops and panels. Weik will host a free, public panel discussion on the initiative and its future at UT Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.
The panel discussion, called Mindfulness, Creativity and the Zen Arts Ensemble, will feature Dr. Wesley Bullock, UT associate professor of psychology; Irene Alby, UT lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Film; and Michael Leizerman, attorney.
Weik will give an overview of the initiative at UT, and each panelist will discuss its application to his or her field.
Another part of the initiative is a course that Weik teaches on Mindfulness and Creativity, which focuses on introducing mindfulness through meditation and breathing methods. Though the practices are based on Eastern traditions, the class does not have a religious connotation.
The class is housed in the Department of Music and offered in the summer, but beginning next fall it will be a general education course. It also may become the first of a few courses offered within a mindfulness and creativity minor available to all majors that would include other relevant curriculum and a capstone class.
“This is a multidisciplinary effort with very enthusiastic support across different colleges,” Weik said. “I think that’s significant.”
Those who wish to take the course, which is worth three credit hours and offered entirely online, can sign up for it this summer using CRN 42452 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
During Tuesday’s panel discussion, Weik also will discuss the Zen Arts Ensemble, a professional music group he put together with some of his colleagues. The ensemble plays entirely in the moment using mindfulness, with very little guidance.
“It’s an incredible manifestation of the creative process,” Weik said. “The music just kind of arrives.”