Mindful U at Naropa University

Thoughts and Instruction on Mindfulness in Higher Education

About the show

As the birthplace of the mindfulness movement in the United States, Naropa University has a unique perspective when it comes to higher education in the West. Founded in 1974 by renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and lineage holder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Naropa was intended to be a place where students could study Eastern and Western religions, writing, psychology, science, and the arts, while also receiving contemplative and meditation training.

Forty-three years later, Naropa is a leader in ‘contemplative education’, a pedagogical approach that blends rigorous academics, contemplative practice, and experiential learning. Naropa President Chuck Lief explains, “Mindfulness here is not a class. Mindfulness is basically the underpinning of what we do in all of our classes. That said, the flavor or the color of mindfulness from class to class is really completely up to the individual faculty member to work on—on their own. So, what happens in a poetry class is going to look very different from what happens in a research psychology class. But, one way or another the contemplative practices are brought into the mix.”

This podcast is for those with an interest in mindfulness and a curiosity about its place in both higher education and the world at large. Hosted by Naropa alumnus and Multimedia Manager David DeVine, episodes feature Naropa faculty, alumni, and special guests on a wide variety of topics including compassion, permaculture, social justice, herbal healing, and green architecture—to name a few. Listen to explore the transformative possibilities of mindfulness, both in the classroom and beyond!

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  • Charles Eisenstein: The Origin of Wrongness

    February 17th, 2020  |  45 mins 53 secs
    buddhism, buddhist inspired, charles eisenstein, david devine, education, good intention, higher education, inner self, inner work, inspiration, intention, meditation, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, origin of wrongness, reflection, self development, university, war, wrongness

    "I read very widely and was trying to put the pieces together to understand this lifelong question that I had carried. What is the origin of the wrongness in the world, which is presented to us as a series of fragmented isolated atrocities and injustices and horrors -- without any synthesizing narrative that explains why the world is the way that it is? And I really wanted to understand so that I wouldn't be part of maintaining the status quo through pursuing insufficiently deep solutions that may be actually part of the problem. I think a lot of our solutions are part of the problem -- or you could even say our solution templates -- I mean one of them is the war on evil. So, I wanted to -- to get really deep and eventually I came to understand that all of the crises and horrors that we see in the world are an outgrowth of the mythology of civilization. The story of separation is what I call it, which basically says it answers the most fundamental questions that human beings ask. Who are you? Who am I? What is important? How is life to be lived? What is real? What is possible? How does the world work? And our culture answers that in a certain way. And other cultures have answered it different ways."

  • Charlotte Rotterdam: Finding Courage in Contemplative Education

    February 17th, 2020  |  47 mins 38 secs
    charlotte rotterdam, college, contemplative, contemplative education, courage, david devine, education, higher education, meditation, mindful, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, university

    "Absolutely. You know we might have an idea about something, but then when you begin to express it from a creative place it's almost like you have to feel into it. If I want to write a poem about sadness it's not just about my ideas about sadness. At some point as I'm writing I need to stop and feel into what does sadness feel like? And then I might even think about a very specific situation in my life that brings up sadness. And then what arises from that place as a poem is coming from a non-conceptual place. Non-conceptual knowing and yet I've expressed something and I might even express it in words like with a poem. So, what we're trying to do in contemplative education is to bring both of those together. So, it's not in spite of conceptual knowing -- concepts are great, thinking is great -- but that there are other ways of knowing that are equally important and maybe if we bring them all together then there's a richness of knowing that begins to emerge."

  • Anthony Gallucci: Re-establishing Masculinity

    February 17th, 2020  |  41 mins 25 secs
    cisgender, contemplative, education, gender, higher education, masculine, masculinity, mindfulness, misogynistic, misogyny, naropa, naropa university, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, university

    "There's gender identity, which isn't actually a problem. It's when it's forced into a limited paradigm or spectrum it can be an issue or when it's forced into a hierarchy. I see us eventually eliminating the hierarchy within these systems of identity and becoming more for lack of a better term, more merit based in our assessment of people's qualities. The re-establishing masculinity group believes that at Naropa to be foresighted and to support these movements we need to begin to get out of the way sort of speak and actually become allies to the anti-misogynistic movements that are occurring in our world. And to do that we ought to be -- we being people whom identify as masculine ought to be not disempowered to engage in that work. We ought to be empowered in our opinion to engage in that work. And the offering that's available of how masculinity is defined and actualized too often is non virtuous and not empowering."

  • Miki Fire: Discovering the Self Through Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy

    July 1st, 2019  |  46 mins 47 secs
    buddhism, college, contemplative, david devine, education, environment, environmental justice, higher education, miki fire, mindful, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, therapy, transpersonal, transpersonal wilderness therapy, university, wild life, wilderness, wilderness therapy

    "I do think here at Naropa specifically we do have a transpersonal orientation, a transpersonal lens that we then incorporate into all of our classes. So, the contemplative education piece is very much interwoven in what we do in the field. And so, we incorporate contemplative practices, we talk about how nature based experiences themselves can be forms of contemplative practice and inquiry. We also do introduce the transpersonal model. So how do we work with those kinds of experiences that the transpersonal orientation has really taken in and not pathologized. And being in the outdoors for many people, depending on the context, also can be quite evocative of experiences that do not fit cleanly into our usual psychological frameworks or when they are they're often pathologized."

  • Carl Anthony: The Urban Habitat Program

    June 17th, 2019  |  35 mins 18 secs
    breakthrough communities, carl anthony, city planning, communities, contemplative, education, environment, environmental justice, higher education, justice, naropa, naropa university, paloma pavel, social justice, university, urban communities, urban habitat

    "We need to think about a new quality in our organization where we are not only protesting against the things that are really hurting our communities and neighborhoods, but we're also really cultivating expertise on ideas and visions that we might have for the neighborhood and community. Finding ways that rather than having these issues come forth in competition, that we can actually have a big enough solutions put forth that incorporate. And one of the areas that we have been specializing in is something called Movement for Regional Equity and what that basically means is that the decisions that are made at a regional level are taken up by the community and our metropolitan region."

  • Paloma Pavel: Reimagining Community Organizing & Environmental Literacy

    June 3rd, 2019  |  45 mins 11 secs
    breakthrough communities, carl anthony, city planning, communities, contemplative, education, environment, environmental justice, higher education, justice, naropa, naropa university, paloma pavel, social justice, university, urban communities, urban habitat

    "It's been a great joy and privilege in my life to work with individuals, with communities, with groups—sometimes in traditional organizations and non-profits—sometimes at a community level. We're living in a time where I think we're being called to move from a politics of protest and saying no to one of saying yes, and of governance, and of really learning how to take charge of the basic infrastructure of our lives. Communities are taking back locally produced energy and energy grids. People are working on knowledge about where their water comes from and soil—and also their sense of meaning and community and creativity and art in the broadest sense of: how do we imagine a new culture that is truly inclusive of all?"

  • Paloma Pavel & Carl Anthony: Breakthrough Communities, Underserved Populations, & Community Engagement

    May 20th, 2019  |  52 mins 7 secs
    breakthrough communities, carl anthony, city planning, communities, contemplative, education, environment, environmental justice, higher education, justice, naropa, naropa university, paloma pavel, social justice, university, urban communities, urban habitat

    "As we open and see that what we're carrying around inside ourselves, what we have created around us is kind of a fear story. When we actually step into the fierce love story that we long for, we start having a much more joyful experience and one where we're not at war with our earth community. One where we're actually welcoming growing things in our backyards and on our roofs, where we're seeing that space is imagined in a whole other way. And also, we do need to live closer together if we're going to preserve wilderness and agricultural land and green space—it's essential that we learn how to be with one another. And we're excited for this moment because we feel that it's probably one of the most energizing, innovating moments that we've ever lived through. And it's accelerating."

  • Joanna Macy: The Work That Reconnects Part 2 of 2

    May 6th, 2019  |  36 mins 30 secs
    activism, activist, bodhisattva, buddhism, climate change, college, community, contemplative, contemplative education, crisis, david devine, deep ecology, earth, eco system, ecology, education, equality, higher education, joanna macy, mindful, mindful u, mindfulness, mother earth, naropa, naropa university, nuclear activist, nuclear guardianship, planet earth, social change, social justice, social responsibility, the great turning, the work that reconnects, university

    "We talked about the spiral of the work that reconnects and then you talked about how once you dare to really see and speak what you've wanted to keep at arm's length, once you refuse to turn away and really suffer with your world and then you realize that the world is flowing into you and the living planet becomes alive for you. And then it generates for you. So that's we call seeing with new eyes. Everything looks different. And we use practices that are inspired by what we call deep ecology like the council of all beings. Where we step aside from our human role, which is only the last chapter of our long planetary journey. We've, as we know from the life forms we had in the womb of our mother, you know we had a tail and gills and fins. And so that we capitulate that ontogeny."

  • Joanna Macy: The Work That Reconnects Part 1 of 2

    April 29th, 2019  |  53 mins 16 secs
    activism, activist, bodhisattva, buddhism, climate change, college, community, contemplative, contemplative education, crisis, david devine, deep ecology, earth, eco system, ecology, education, equality, higher education, joanna macy, mindful, mindful u, mindfulness, mother earth, naropa, naropa university, nuclear activist, nuclear guardianship, planet earth, social change, social justice, social responsibility, the great turning, the work that reconnects, university
  • Alicia Patterson: Deep Wisdom & Healing of the Pelvic Bowl

    April 22nd, 2019  |  49 mins 30 secs
    alicia patterson, college, david devine, education, healing, health, higher education, meditation, mindful, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, pelvic, pelvic bowl, pelvic floor, pelvic wisdom, psychology, somatic, somatic therapy, therapy, university, wisdom, women, womens health

    "The pelvic floor muscle tissues are connected very intricately and beautifully, and I feel like it can be complex in some ways to the abdominal muscles. And I think of the pelvic floor as the foundation of a building, it's like the ground level of the body. If the foundation of a building is off or suffering or it's not right, the whole rest of the building is off. So, that's my best metaphor is that the pelvic floor is our foundation. It's so connected to our legs and our feet and the way that we walk and move and dance through the world. And it supports everything above it. So, the reproductive organs, the digestive system, all the organs, the heart, the voice, the throat, and the brain are supported by the pelvic floor. And I've had huge changes in my digestion and rewiring of my nervous system and real cognitive and mood balances from working with my pelvic floor that before, I was trying a million different things to feel better. For me, the pelvic floor is like the Holy Grail."

  • Rick Snyder: Decisive Intuition, Using your Gut Instincts to Make Smart Business Decisions

    April 15th, 2019  |  49 mins 48 secs
    buddhism, buddhist, business, college, compassion, contemplative, david devine, decisive intuition, education, higher education, intuition, mindful, mindful u, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, rick snyder, smart business, university

    "Emotional intelligence has completely revolutionized our lives and our business space. And because that's there there's now this foundation around intuitive intelligence. So, this is the next nuance that I'm really passionate to bring in, is that emotional intelligence is foundational and key. But it's not the whole story of how we discern information and how we navigate the world, even though emotions are supercritical and a big part of that. Intuitive intelligence also weaves in a greater, wider array of data information that we have to be able to learn to discern. So, it's even a little more refined in some ways. So that's what I'm really excited about is bringing this next wave to the business base and then also beyond that too. So that people give themselves more permission to trust themselves on a fundamental level. And bring their empowerment and their gifts forward without apology."

  • Venerable Pannavati: Hearing the Cries of the World & Responding with Compassion

    April 8th, 2019  |  53 mins 48 secs
    awareness, buddhism, care, compassion, david devine, devine, fierce compassion, higher education, love, meditation, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, practice, university, venerable pannavati

    "Meditation is so important—particularly training and concentration. How to steady and fix the mind until conceptual thoughts fall away. We live so much in our conceptualizing nature that we can't imagine life without that. But when you start doing this practice, you find out that you can conceptualize, and you cannot. So, learning how to drop into that stillness, as the Buddha calls it, until you come to the absolute stilling of all thought. We think well then, there's nothing. Yes, there is something beyond that, you could never see it before because you were caught in the cycle of conceptualizing. But the other side that the Buddha calls meditation—a pleasant, abiding here and now, touching kind of contentment and peace that the world didn't give you. So, the world can't take it away. But what he called practice was something entirely different. We just need to do more practice, and the practice is not to sit on the pillow. Sitting on a pillow is sitting on a pillow. But to practice is how we handle ourselves in every moment of our waking day—when one is accosting you, taking what is yours and what is criticizing you."

  • Nashalla Nyinda: Tibetan & Asian Medicine in Relationship with Western Biomedicine

    April 1st, 2019  |  49 mins 45 secs
    acu pressure, asian medicine, ayurvedic, college, herbalism, higher education, medicine, meditation, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, nashalla nyinda, tibetan medicine, university, western medicine

    "It's said in Tibetan medicine that you have to have all five elements plus karma in order to be incarnated at all. So, even to obtain the precious human body you have to have all five elements in karma. So you're going to choose certain parents and situations. They're going to give you some genetic factors which are going to influence your inner elements and then also you're going to have the diet and the behavior that your mother has during your pregnancy is going to influence it. The outer environment is going to influence it and then very early on in life -- your life situations are also going to influence it. So, family systems, psychology, all of that has an impact on the choices we make. So, somebody could be inherently one type of being and perhaps their family system either didn't recognize or support that and so they made a choice in order to compensate on a psychological level."

  • Encore Presentation: Brigitte Mars - Herbal Health and Healing

    March 25th, 2019  |  27 mins 25 secs
    brigitte mars, edible, education, health and healing, herbal, herbalism, higher education, medicinal, naropa, naropa university, wellness

    Naropa University professor Brigitte Mars leads students and the overall community in understanding the value of herbs and plants to the body, the mind, and more. Today's episode focuses on Brigitte's work with Naropa students.

  • Sue Wallingford: Healing Generational Wounds Through Art Therapy

    March 18th, 2019  |  42 mins 48 secs
    art, art therapy, college, education, healing, higher education, khmer rouge, naropa, naropa university, psychology, sue wallingford, therapy, university

    "Creativity is inherent in us as human beings. I think that we've, in some ways, lost the connection and the right to have our own creativity and our own artistry. For me, just touching into that in of itself is healing. It also takes you into a different part of your brain. It accesses different parts of your psyche and your spirituality and your soul in a way that maybe verbal therapies don't quite touch. And so, it's a deeper more integrated avenue dealing with you know whatever it is that you're working with."

  • Holistic Life Foundation: A Teacher's Approach to Mindfulness in Baltimore Public Schools

    March 11th, 2019  |  43 mins 36 secs
    baltimore, contemplative, higher education, holistic life foundation, meditation, mindfulness, naropa, naropa university, practice, public schools, teachers

    "You know, we're doing this job dealing with people's problems and not necessarily giving them advice, but just allowing them to tap into their own thoughts and weigh out their own options to create decisions. The more you hold on—you attach yourself to an outcome, then that becomes stressful and then it's not genuine anymore. It's also stressful on the other end of the person that is dealing with the actual problem. So just knowing that you may not see the results—but one thing I have noticed is the maturity that came from my students that I've interacted with—the same situation, but a different outcome of the consequence whenever you're redirected."