Using Mindfulness Meditation and Emotional Intelligence to Navigate the Stress of Life

Post contributed by: Carrie P. Mastley

On Thursday, May 7, 2020, ALA’s NMRT Online Programs Committee hosted an event featuring guest speaker, Ashley Moye. Moye is a former law librarian who earned her mindfulness meditation certification in 2017 and currently serves as the Director of Communications & Marketing and Lead Instructor at Youth Meditation, where she shares these techniques with local high-risk youth. Moye generously agreed to present on the topic “Using Mindfulness Meditation and Emotional Intelligence to Navigate the Stress of Life.”

In the presentation, Moye spoke about the unique challenges of librarianship. She indicated that librarianship has an “environment of impermanence” that is often coupled with a “constant pressure to prove value,” which can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. According to Moye, building one’s emotional intelligence has several benefits to librarians, including clarity of vision, better attention and intuition; happiness; and mindfulness even during stressful moments. She also encouraged meditation for increased mental clarity, relaxation, and better sleep. Moye said the two coupled together could help librarians (or anyone) better manage stress because it teaches one’s brain to respond to stress instead of reacting to it.

Throughout her talk, Moye led participants through a series of exercises. She first taught the group to breathe with a focus on the exhalation. She encouraged participants to breathe through their noses, hold their breath, and then exhale completely through their mouths. Later in the presentation, Moye also led a brief meditation session. She indicated that proper meditation form included: sitting with one’s feet planted on the floor with a straight back; resting one’s hands in an open position; closing one’s eyes or focusing on a singular spot; concentrating on one’s breath and letting one’s thoughts come and go like waves on a beach. After this brief exercise, some group members noted how relaxed they were, while others had questions related to sensations they felt while practicing. One participant noted that the exercise made her feel nauseated and was curious if that was normal. Moye indicated that it was a commonly experienced sensation that could potentially point to increased awareness of one’s physical or emotional needs and feelings.

When asked how often one should meditate, Moye indicated that one should try to practice twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. She explained beginning with eight meaningful breaths followed by a five-, ten-, or fifteen-minute meditation session is ideal. However, she also indicated that one should practice mindfulness in the moment throughout the day by being aware of one’s thoughts when stressed. She added that this awareness did not include fixing or judging these thoughts; instead, one should acknowledge these thoughts, take some deep breaths, and then focus on the task(s) at hand.

Moye concluded her talk by sharing how to live mindfully when going about one’s day-to-day life. She explained that training one’s brain to focus is key, especially given the internal and external distractions one faces each day. She added that this focus allows one to not only listen to oneself more clearly, but it also allows one to listen to others more mindfully, too. She emphasized that everything could be done mindfully if done purposefully and with the presence of mind.

If you were unable to attend Moye’s talk, a recording of this presentation could be found here. If you would like to learn more about mindfulness meditation and emotional intelligence, Moye can be reached via email at ashley@charmadvisors.org. She also recommends the following resources: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn; The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh; Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan by Mark Williams; Search Inside Yourself by Chad-Meng Tan; The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor; The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown; and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

Members of the NMRT Online Programs Committee include:

LaQuanda T. Onyemeh, MLIS, M.Ed (Committee Chair)
Training & Consultant Partner ProQuest, WOC+Lib Co-Founder

Hannah Chapman Tripp, MLIS
Biosciences Liaison Librarian, University of Texas at Austin

Kathleen Flynn, MLIS
Subject Librarian for Physical Sciences, Math & Statistics, Computer Science, & Engineering, University at Albany Libraries

Carrie P. Mastley, MA, MLIS
Assistant Professor/Manuscripts Librarian, Mississippi State University Libraries

Colleen Quinn, MLIS
Reference & Instruction Librarian, University of Maryland Global Campus

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