Dr. Timothy Pedigo's journey with mindfulness
After losing both parents to the effects of depression and alcoholism as a teen, Dr. Tim Pedigo wanted to learn more about the workings of his own mind.
He found his way to meditative practice that has helped him immensely throughout his life. As he learned more about mindfulness himself, Pedigo also started researching and teaching the subject to learn more about the self-care practice and share its benefits with others.
As an Associate Professor of Psychology in the College of Education at Governors State University (GSU), Pedigo teaches mindfulness and compassion to undergraduates, as well as psychotherapy skills to those in the clinical psychology master program. He is also a psychotherapist with over 35 years of experience specializing in trauma and dissociation.
Recently, Pedigo received tenure, capping years of research, practice and publishing at Governors State University.
GSU Newsroom: What drew you to your field of study?
Pedigo: I was very interested in how my mind works and how I am affected by the events that have occurred in my life. One of the first essays I wrote in college was titled, “Why Am I the Way that I am?” I had a rough beginning as both my parents were alcoholics and they died due to the effects of depression and alcoholism in their lives when I was a teen. Therapy and mindfulness have really made a difference in my life.
GSU Newsroom: Can you share a bit about how mindfulness can be beneficial to daily life for those who know little about it?
Pedigo: Mindfulness is self-care. It’s something we all need. It’s so easy to be stricken with anxiety and depression in the world we live in now. We know we need to give time and attention to our mental, physical, and spiritual (mind, body, and spirit) well-being more than ever to stay healthy. The encouraging news is that only 10 minutes of mindfulness, four or more times a week, can make a big difference overtime in helping our minds become more regulated and establishing greater well-being. We are living in times of uncertainty and insecurity, causing us to be more defensive and less tolerant with each other. We need to train ourselves not to be reactive and instead be calm and open with each other.
GSU Newsroom: What have been some of the most interesting topics of study that you have researched?
Pedigo: Over the last six years I have taught a course in mindfulness and measured the differences it makes in how students are able to engage in learning. Initially we predicted it would help students concentrate better and increase the level of their academic performance. While this prediction had some effect, the greater effect was on self-compassion and relationship health. Students began to develop a more open and understanding relationship with themselves and others.
GSU Newsroom: What do you hope to accomplish next?
Pedigo: We just finished collecting data on a study of the relationship between mindfulness, self-compassion, and curiosity. The primary hypothesis is that both mindfulness and self-compassion will help students become less anxious and more open to learning for learning’s sake. There’s a tendency for students to anxiously try and prove themselves instead of relaxing and discovering the intrinsic joy of learning. The hope is that mindfulness and self-compassion can help students to become more truly curious and enjoy learning.
GSU Newsroom: As finals approach, what are five stress management techniques that students can engage?
Pedigo: 1. Regular mindfulness for three to four times a week for at least 10 minutes will decrease the way we worry so much and increase ability to stay focused.
2. Take a few deep breaths before tests, writing papers, or doing homework will help students be more efficient and effective.
3. Spend a few minutes at the end of the day reflecting on what went well and offer gratitude. This will increase positive feelings in daily life.
4. Students should recognize when they get down on and form a more compassionate and positive self view. This will work to increase self-compassion and self-worth.
5. Find a few times each week to get away from work or school —maybe a walk in nature or something enjoyable and relaxing.