The Academic Wellness project explores how students’ academic journey is influenced by students’ perceptions and choices around academic integrity and mental wellbeing. 🧑‍🎓👩‍🎓👨‍🎓

Perceptions about one’s self, abilities, worthiness, decision making, attributions, motivations, as well as others and the environment around them play a big role in one’s day-to-day lives. 

In this interview,👨🏻‍💻 Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi talks about mindfulness and its big role in students’ day-to-day lives, including their academic wellbeing. 

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi did his post doctorate in the department of psychology at Harvard University and worked with Professor Ellen J. Langer who is one of the leading figures on mindfulness. In his almost ten-year long, studying, work and teaching at Harvard, he taught on mindfulness and published numerous works on mindfulness. 

What is Mindfulness? 🤔

Mindfulness is an active state of mind where one can intentionally live in the here and now and experience a phenomenological connectedness to the present moment. When one is mindful, he/she can live his/her wholeness and can experience savoring, synergy, vitality, and presence.

“Presence is a key to mindfulness.”

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

When mindless, people experience a state of fragmentation, absence, separation, and tardiness.

In your publications, you coined the term “Langerian mindfulness”, can you expand on that?🤔

That’s a good question. There are at least two versions of mindfulness: meditation-based mindfulness and Langerian mindfulness. The former claims that meditation opens up the path to mindfulness whereas the latter namely Langerian mindfulness argues that while you can achieve mindfulness through meditation, you can also be mindful without the use of meditation.

There are clinical and social implications of Langerian mindfulness in a wide variety of contexts including relationship, health and treatment of depression, stress and anxiety. How is Langerian mindfulness related to academic wellness?🤔

Langerian Mindfulness may help in the facilitation of students’ wellbeing in academia and in the different contexts and parts of their day-to-day lives that affect it. With Langerian mindfulness, students can increase their creativity, their vivacity and their connectedness to the present moment. Anxiety and fears go away when mindfulness arrives.

When mindfulness grows, and of course we have different levels of mindfulness, our capacity to celebrate multiple perspectives enhance as well.

“Our flexibility, openness and receptiveness grow in line with our mindfulness.”

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

Our mindfulness would allow us to become more caring and careful: caring because we will increase our power of attention, empathy, understanding and tolerance towards others and careful because we will watch our responses, reactions and language. Deep down discrimination, oppression, stereotyping, cliché ways of thinking there lie layers of mindlessness. Mindlessness imposes a mindset which treats people like things whereas mindfulness requires a humane approach towards human ties and relationships.

Self-esteem and attributions to one’s worthiness may influence students’ decisions of resorting to academic misconduct.
How can mindfulness increase our sense of self-esteem?🤔

Mindfulness is aligned with empowerment and agency. Mindfulness helps us understand that our choices count and that we are not merely embedded and incarcerated in an automatic behavior setting. 

When we understand our power of choices and we appreciate its implications, we come to realize how our choices can create different realities for us. 

Our self-worth enhances through our mindfulness.”

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

We liberate ourselves from fear and inducing factors and detach their impeding elements from our proactivity. When mindless, we often identify ourselves with our negativity, our fears, our drawbacks and our missing points. When our mindfulness emerges, we make a discernment of our strengths, our resources and our choices. Mindfulness allows us to see how we can get out of an automatic mindset and begin to invent our decisions, images, responses and performances through our choices.

What are the impediments of mindfulness and how can we avoid them?🤔

Langerian mindfulness argues that acting from a single perspective, routinized behaviors, repetitions, exposure to recursive forms of behavior, and indulgence in hackneyed ways of living, an outcome-oriented attitude without paying attention to process are among the factors that can give rise to mindlessness. 

Revising our mindsets, sitting back and observing our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and interpretations, understanding the differences between thoughts and actions, experiencing detachment (that nothing should own us) and compassion are prerequisites for experiencing the delectable taste of mindfulness. 

“Mindfulness opens up the path for developing a radical transformation of one’s being.

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

I invite you to exercise mindfulness today by being present in your academic journey and the learning process and by not paying attention only to the outcome(s), whether that is a good grade or to graduate.

Only adopting an outcome-oriented attitude could make it more likely to fall into acts like academic misconduct and academic violations which may not only deprive you of a true learning experience and exploration of one’s strengths and performance, but worsen your mental health and wellbeing (stress, anxiety, depression).

Make every choice regarding your mental health or academic progress, knowing that it counts. There lies power within the aspirations, development and growth as a student, learner, and a person that you can reach by making choices while adopting mindfulness.

Having said that, the choices you have made in the past should not define you or limit you, but you can always define your life with the choices you make. There are many resources that can support you, and accessing them is a choice that is available for you. Check out the Resource Hub page for more! 

Please see below a short bio for Dr. Fatemi.

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi Biography

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi completed his postdoctoral studies in the department of psychology at Harvard University where he has also served as a Teaching Fellow, an Associate and a Fellow.

He is a frequently published author and has been the keynote speaker of numerous international conferences.

His publications appear in Springer, Wiley, Templeton Press, Routledge, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Lexington publication, Roman & Littlefield, Palgrave McMillan, American Psychiatric Association, and Journals such as APA’s Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology and International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

In addition to teaching at Harvard, he has also taught for the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia, Western Washington University, University of Massachusetts in Boston, University of Toronto, York University, Endicott College, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, University of Tehran, and Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.