As the penultimate chapter of my BLI experience, the Mindful Leader Program has been nothing short of fulfilling and has provided me with the tools necessary to continue evolving as a compassionate leader. The program began with a fall retreat that gave us the opportunity to get to know our cohort members and program leaders. It was then that we started our new leadership journey, together. 

    There were so many reasons I wanted to join this program, and approaching senior year, this was especially so. My introduction to mindfulness actually began with my experience as a Peer Facilitator. During the Leadership Lab, we incorporated aspects of mindfulness into each meeting by challenging students to think critically about their communities, having them complete weekly reflections, and introducing many of them to the philosophy of servant leadership. I found myself looking forward to this part of facilitation and wanted to learn more about these topics as well as cultivate these practices on my own. The draw of creating a mindful organization also excited me. The opportunity to take what I had learned and create something bigger than myself, incorporating my passions as well as my collective academic learnings, was the perfect project to conclude senior year at Michigan. 

    For many of us, the retreat was the first step in developing the practices of mindfulness. We spent time exploring meditation and its benefits as well as began the first of our many contemplative art creations. In the bimonthly meetings that followed, we built upon our foundation spending longer periods of time meditating together and diving deeper with our own contemplative practice and understanding of what it means to be a mindful leader. 

    The most transformative aspect of this program for me, came unexpectedly through keeping a journal. Before this year, it would be rare to catch me writing during free time. But as an important component of reflection, journaling was a key part of the program. We spent each week addressing one of the seven features of the mindful mindset (compassion, sympathetic joy, critical intersectional awareness, negative capability, cultural humility, wonder and generosity). It was during this time that I started to unpack what it truly means to embody these characteristics. Of these features, compassion resonated with me the most. As a soon-to-be young professional, I was intrigued by the idea of a compassionate workplace and what it means to be a compassionate leader. Through journaling, I discovered how small acts of care towards those around us can contribute to a culture shift and how it takes a certain amount of vulnerability from a leader to achieve this workplace vision.

    As I move forward from college, I am excited to take with me the practices and friends that I have gained during this program. These experiences in the Mindful Leader Program have changed my perspective on leadership philosophy not only making me a better leader, but a better person as well.