- Who is the course instructor?
- I am Mariyam Mirza, the creator and teacher of this course. I have a Ph.D. in Computer Science and work full-time in the Boston tech industry. You can find more about my academic and professional background here.
- Why do you want to teach mindfulness?
- Addressing problems around mental / emotional / behavioral health is extremely important to me. Even in this day and age, mental health does not get the attention and priority it deserves, either in individual or collective life, leading to vast amounts of very preventable suffering. Mindfulness, in combination with other modes of care such as therapy, has been invaluable for my own challenges with anxiety, unhealthy perfectionism, and difficult life events, and I want others dealing with similar issues to benefit from it the way I have.
- Why 'mindfulness for engineers and Type-A people'?
- As a Type A engineer and scientist, I was very fortunate that my first mindfulness teachers (during my years as a graduate student) were scientists doing cutting-edge research on the physical and mental health impact of meditation. They taught mindfulness in a pragmatic and precise manner, and had personal and professional lives and challenges I could relate to. Given my inherent impatience and pickiness, I know I would have dismissed mindfulness offhand if my early instruction had come from full-time mindfulness teachers whose lives and personalities and ways of expressing themselves were significantly different from mine.
After I finished graduate school and no longer had access to the scientist mindfulness teachers, I had to use materials from more conventional teachers. As I did so, I had to grapple with language, ideas, and practices that did not resonate with me, and over time translated and adapted many of them to be relevant to my life and experience as a cut-and-dry Type-A engineer. (My mental model of mindfulness uses CPU / processor / non-preemptive scheduler analogies).
There are a large number of mindfulness teachers and courses available now. The value proposition of this course is the translation and adaptation of mindfulness teachings I have done to make them relevant for myself and my target audience, and to demonstrate how to apply them to concrete real-life situations such as dissertation defenses, job interviews, and performance reviews.
- What is your background as a mindfulness teacher and practitioner?
- My personal practices are based on the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Tara Brach, two of the leading teachers of mindfulness in the West. I have had a number of in-person teachers over the years, and incorporate ideas and practices from these teachers in this course. I am a secular mindfulness practitioner. However, I fully acknowledge and value the religious roots, primarily Buddhist and Hindu, of mindfulness concepts and practices.
In creating this course, I I have test-driven and received feedback on the practices I will teach from various groups of people (lay people / beginner meditators, other teachers-in-training, experienced teachers, therapists).