By Maureen McMahon
Maureen McMahon: Paulette, you have a long history of teaching Humanities at Washtenaw Community College (WCC) and you trained at U-Mass Medical School Integrative Medicine Center for Mindfulness. Now your teaching has shifted to meditation. How did you begin to learn meditation and what were some highlights of your training? What was it like?
Paulette Grotrian: My first experience with meditation was in the 1990’s with Transcendental Meditation. In early 2000, I met a teacher who taught Mindfulness, Martha Kimball, who is in Ann Arbor and is retired now. I studied with her for quite a few years. In 2010, she suggested I become a Mindfulness teacher. That took me by surprise, but she said, “You get it. You have something to share.”
I began my mindfulness teacher training at Omega Institute, where Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), was my teacher; I went on to study in his program at University of Massachusetts Medical School, and after silent retreats at Spirit Rock in California, much coursework, and Intensives, I became a qualified MBSR teacher. I have been teaching in the Ann Arbor area ever since. For me, it has been a personally and professionally rewarding journey.
MM: Is there an Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness initiative you are most excited about? What is your current focus with teaching and facilitating Mindfulness? Who’s attending?
PG: A group of us started the Center for Mindfulness in 2015. We Mindfulness teachers and practitioners found strength in collaboration, that we can support each other, and that we have much more to offer the community as a resource. This year we added Teacher Support Meetings for those who use Mindfulness in their professions, and this has increased our personal and collective effectiveness.
As for my current teaching, in 2016 I trained to be a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) teacher and will be teaching that course again in the fall in Saline, along with a MBSR course in Ann Arbor. This June, I’m excited to teach a five-day MBSR Intensive, June 21-25, 9:30–3:30 p.m. at the Naturopathic School of Healing Arts in Ann Arbor. This will be the first time the Intensive has been offered in the Ann Arbor area. It is designed for those who would find it hard to take the 8-week course. Also, it is ideal for teachers. Registration is open on my website. Additionally, I host a weekly drop-in meditation called Open Meditation Saline on Tuesday mornings.
As for who attends, MBSR and MSC are really for everybody. Participants include those with health challenges; some dealing with loss and grief; folks dealing with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed, including university students; married couples interested in learning mindfulness together for a healthier relationship; and those newly retired.
MM: What are some groups or partnerships you are excited about working with to teach MBSR?
PG: One exciting development is at WCC, I taught an MBSR course to Campus Services in the Facilities Management Division and I’ve done some work with faculty through Professional Development. WCC Facilities Management leadership is strongly considering the training for their managers and eventually for the whole division. In short, there is a desire to build the principles of MBSR into the fabric of the workplace.
MM: Sounds like it can change the place from the inside out. Thank you, Paulette.
For more information on Paulette’s class offerings, visit mindfulnesswithpaulette.weebly.com.