Gabrielle Dimick & Harrison Rappaport (2020)
Meditation for Student Health & Fulfillment
Meditation for Student Health & Fulfillment is a project that addresses the prevalence of mental health issues on the UC Berkeley campus by continuing the popular DeCal: Meditation & Mindfulness: Traditional and Neuroscientific Perspectives, developed by Harrison Rappaport. The course emphasizes applied instruction in traditional contemplative practices, with the support of written and artistic reflections, readings, movement activities, discussions, and exercises in kindness and gratitude. The first semester of the course achieved immense success, with many students reporting increased overall well-being, a greater sense of stability, and a bolstered ability to cope with life’s challenges. With the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize, Gabrielle Dimick and Harrison Rappaport will extend this course for Berkeley students in the 2020-2021 academic year. In order to provide more students access to these highly impactful practices, Gabrielle and Harrison intend to create a non-profit organization and adapt the curriculum to broader settings.
Gabrielle Dimick graduated UC Berkeley in 2020 with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies & Fieldwork and a minor in Education. Her topic of research was called Education for Social Change in which she investigated the outcomes of student-centered learning approaches in developing social and emotional intelligence. In her time at UC Berkeley, she has worked as a research assistant on the UC Berkeley Presidential Chair Fellows: Discovery Learning Project, studying different mechanisms of learning. Gabrielle co-facilitated the course Meditation & Mindfulness: Traditional and Neuroscientific Perspectives in the Spring of 2020--assisting with research and curriculum development, and helping to establish a positive and trusting classroom community. Additionally, she has held various teaching positions in the field of Psychology and Education in which she developed her teaching skills and passion for providing self-learning opportunities to students. Overall, she is committed to advocating for integrating contemplative practices into the classroom for the benefit of student empowerment and well-being, and the improvement of society at large. At UC Berkeley, Harrison completed interdisciplinary research at the intersection of psychology, neurobiology, and Buddhist studies. He developed and tested a course in applied meditation and neuroscience which led to significant reported benefits for many university students. He is now in the second semester of teaching the course, and leads a team of researchers and facilitators. Harrison completed this work both as independent study with Dr. David Presti, and within the context of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab with the assistance of Dr. Dacher Keltner. Harrison has been teaching meditation for nearly a decade; he has created and facilitated multiple courses of practice in the U.S. and abroad. His current work draws from his traditional training in Vajrayana Buddhism with teachers from Tibet, Bhutan, India, and the U.S., and much time spent in solitary meditation retreats in the wilderness. Previously, Harrison lived in Bhutan working as the head editor and writer with a company built to support the nations major local philanthropic organization. In the coming years, he will oversee a new project consisting of the documentation and digital archival of sacred national treasures. Harrison is grateful for the support to continue offering classes at UC Berkeley for the benefit of our bright and unique community. He says: May we all continue to care for each other, and for our precious home!