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‘Mindful and Reflective Moments’ Podcast Ready to Debut

There’s something worthwhile to be gained by lying in a grassy field and watching a couple of tiny ants trundle past you carrying some food on their backs—even if this sojourn takes place only in your mind.

That’s the message Kellyne Vaudreuil ’23 is sending to listeners of the first episode of Mindful and Reflective Moments, a collaborative podcast series produced by Vassar students, staff, and administrators. Eight additional episodes will be posted over the balance of the Spring Semester. They were co-produced by the Office of Health Promotion and Education, Counseling Service, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices and the Office of Student Growth and Engagement. Recording and production of the podcasts was overseen by Christopher Faulkner, Film Production Technical Director in the Department of Film.

Podcast creators: Top Row (left to right): Wayne Assing, Andrea Pesavento, Sammantha Hoher; Middle Row: Hannah Thompson ‘23, Wendy Maragh Taylor, Shenette Scille; Bottom Row: Kellyne Vaudreuil ‘23, Jason Jin ’22, and Christopher Faulkner.

Vaudreuil, a psychology major from Hempstead, NY, is a wellness peer educator in the Office of Health Promotion and Education. She said she learned mindfulness practices centering on visualization when she was in high school. Her goal in her episode was to help listeners “focus on things you don’t always see that help you become present in the moment.”

Andrea Pesavento, Director of the Office of Health Promotion and Education, said the idea for the project was spurred by one simple goal: helping everyone in the Vassar community to manage the daily stresses generated by living through a global pandemic. “When the pandemic arrived last March, our office created daily mindful moments through Zoom with staff at Counseling Service, Student Growth and Engagement, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices,” Pesavento said. “As a group we collectively acknowledge the importance of having moments in your day to pause, reflect and feel calmer. We thought we should to do something on a more sustainable basis, and the idea for a podcast series was born.” 

Sam Hoher ’17, Program Coordinator/Health Educator at the Office of Health Promotion and Education, said the collaboration for the podcasts was driven by a desire to enable Vassar students, administrators and staff to learn mindfulness techniques from others in the College community. “There are many mindfulness podcasts available online,” Hoher said, “but with these, you are hearing from people you may know, and the content may be more Vassar-specific. It’s a way of helping all of us make more connections.”

Samuel Speers, Associate Dean for Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices, said finding ways to live in the moment has long been a question for various wisdom traditions. “It’s a tradition that goes back millennia,” Speers said. “It has deep roots in multiple philosophical and religious traditions. It’s something anyone can do, religious or not. Mindfulness is really a focused way of truly paying attention, and most importantly, it teaches us how to be there for one another.”

Jason Jin ’22, a wellness peer educator in the Office of Health Promotion and Education, said guided meditation is useful “because meditating by yourself can be hard when you’re just starting out: How do you know what to think about?” 

Jin’s episode will focus on gratitude. “In the current climate, we need to be mindful of the people and experiences that can help you through these stressful times,” he said. He noted that while such gratitude can often be for a friend or relative, it can also be for “the little things, like the snow outside or the coffee or tea in your favorite mug.”

Additional episodes will be launched throughout the Spring Semester. Creators include Hannah Thompson ’23, peer educator in the Office of Health Promotion and Education; Pia Behmuaras ’23, hospitality intern in the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices; Wendy Maragh Taylor, Associate Dean of the College for Student Growth and Engagement; the Rev. Samuel Speers, Associate Dean of the College for Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices; Wayne Assing, Assistant Director of Counseling Service, and Shenette Scille, Vassar Counseling Service psychologist.