Founded in 2009, the SMI has provided opportunities in and beyond Sarasota County to learn and practice mindfulness meditation. The organization’s mission has been to educate the public through classes and retreats in mindfulness meditation, and to provide a supportive space for building community and practicing mindfulness. New College has been working with the SMI since 2016, when the College started developing classes and Independent Study Projects (ISPs) on mindfulness.
“The pandemic really affected the SMI, since it became very difficult to have people come together to practice mindfulness,” said New College Assistant Professor of Religion Manuel Lopez, Ph.D. “After some months of pondering the future of the SMI, they decided that it was better to close the organization and donate the money to local institutions and organizations that could continue the mission of the SMI. I think it is a sign that the SMI believes in what we do at the College.”
Kurt Maurer, Ph.D.—the chair of the board of directors at the SMI—said Lynne Lockie’s class at the SMI has been very popular with New College students and faculty.
“In the past year, we have been searching for ways to further our mission and Dr. Lopez’s plan for the use of the SMI’s funds,” Maurer said. “New College was the perfect place for the SMI’s donation.”
The College plans to use the funds to promote the practice of mindfulness within New College and the Sarasota-Manatee community at large. Plans include developing a series of lectures with prominent speakers, classes, and workshops over the next three years that will focus on the benefits of mindfulness. The workshops will involve partnerships with three to five local organizations that could benefit from mindfulness training to further their missions and goals.
“While mindfulness is not a solution to all problems or is even recommended to deal with some mental health issues, we strongly believe that mindfulness can be an extremely useful tool to deal with a wide variety of issues, such as anxiety, depression, etc.,” Lopez said. “This does not replace the work that should be done with mental health professionals, but it can add an invaluable tool to deal with and manage some of those problems.”
Dr. Maurer added, “We wish to thank Dr. Lopez and New College for their interest and dedication to empowering people to live happier, healthier, less stressful lives, and to cultivate a more peaceful, tolerant world.”
For more information about this gift or the New College Foundation, visit ncf.edu/foundation or call 941-487-4800.