Campus Life

Free Course Teaches Mindfulness Foundations

By JoLynne Lyon |

Joana Franco will lead a free mindfulness course open to USU faculty, students and staff.

A free course teaching the foundations of mindfulness starts Jan. 24. It is open to Utah State University students, faculty and staff — but registration closes Jan. 23.

The course can help participants deal with the stress and pain in their lives without suffering, said Joana Franco, an instructional designer and mindfulness coach who created the course and will lead the sessions.

“We have more than 35 years of research and evidence for mindfulness,” she said. “What we already found in research is that mindfulness helps reduce stress considerably. It helps increase a sense of perception of life balance, it helps with increasing social pro social behavior — compassion and kindness and that kind of thing — and looking to another and having empathy. It also has been shown to increase self-regulation and help with dealing with emotions, being with pain.”

Franco was born in Brazil, where she began practicing meditation with her mother as a young child. Her practice helped sustain her as a graduate student. During the pandemic, she began putting her instructional design skills to work when Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice Director Matthew Wappett asked her to offer a course on the foundations of mindfulness. She began offering the course through the Institute for Disability in 2021.

“It's so helpful,” said Lisa Amussen of the University Inn. She took the course and found it to be a calming experience. “When Joana does the classes, she takes us through a mindfulness exercise. And when those classes are done, I can just sit in my chair and breathe. My shoulders are not up by my ears. I can think clearly.”

Elisa Taylor, a USU graduate student and instructional designer who took the class, said it helped her through a difficult year. She thought it might be a good way to be more aware of her surroundings and more at peace with the situations she found herself in.

“About halfway through the training, I started doing practice in the morning, and I would wake up early to do it,” she said. “And it did bring that peace, to sit and breathe, and think through things. I've been able to reduce my pain medication and felt like I'm able to breathe through pain and stress, and can relieve it on my own.”

Mindfulness Foundations runs for one hour each week for 12 weeks, with an optional 10-minute daily practice. Students, staff and faculty can sign up online. Registration closes on Jan. 23.


JoLynne Lyon
Public Relations Specialist
Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice


Joana Franco
Instructional Designer
Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice


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