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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  • Holistic Life Foundation: A Principal's Insight to Mindfulness Programs in Baltimore Public Schools

    March 4th, 2019  |  44 mins 16 secs
    baltimore, baltimore schools, city public schools, education, fort worthington elementary school, holistic life foundation, meditation, mindfulness, monique debi, naropa university, patterson high school, principals, school, vance benton, yoga

    "Anything dealing with meditation or anything dealing with children's emotional growth is difficult to quantify. And it's difficult to put a price on it. So, it's difficult for schools, principals in particular to bring programs when you gotta pay some people to do some things inside of a school. So, meditation and things of that nature unfortunately will be put on the backburner. And a lot of people's levels of urgency tend be well, low on that on that scale. Because a lot of people just aren't into it themselves. And unfortunately, can't see a broader picture, outside of what's the immediate gratification."

  • Holistic Life Foundation: An Onsite Inquiry into Mindfulness

    February 25th, 2019  |  39 mins 41 secs

    "Personally in ten years I see mindfulness implemented in every aspect of life -- whether it's school -- like a school will have like a mindful moment at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day and have alternative suspension rooms where kids de-escalate themselves. It would be cool if you know every business started their day off with the practice. I'm not saying that it's definitely going to get there, but you know I can have high hopes and be optimistic."

  • Gabriel Vanaver: WaterWings – A Storybook Experience

    February 18th, 2019  |  38 mins 28 secs

    "Art and music is such a visceral thing, and it's so experiential. And storytelling is a way to convey eons of moral compass and tradition as well. Every culture of the world has their own stories, and by telling those you don't tell people, 'This is the exact history, and this is what happened, and this is what happened.' It's more like these myths emerge through these cultures that people really latch on to and people connect with. And so, I was hoping to kind of create this new myth in a way to connect people to nature as well as humanity and compassion for other people."

  • Ian Wickramasekera - Hypnosis: Change Your Mind, Change Reality

    February 11th, 2019  |  47 mins 36 secs
    mindfulness, psychology, spirituality

    I really enjoy this field so much because it gives you a very practical way of investigating the spiritual mysteries of the world. so that we can gain inspiration to look deeper into ourselves. But also, it is a very practical way of helping people with very difficult problems—people with very powerful kinds of pain and those that feel like they're locked in a body that's going to hurt for the rest of their life, and nothing can be done about it. And then I say, ‘You don't live in reality.’ If it feels like you do and that you're trapped in this pain body, but I can teach you how to alter that.

  • Jim Jobson: A Journey Through Naropa’s Early Years

    February 4th, 2019  |  49 mins 24 secs

    "So, I went to the first summer of Naropa. And, it was not cool to be like a hippie anymore. There was an aggression of turning away from society. So, we encourage students to do meditation practice, but also to cut your hair, become a member of society, get a job, and having sort of this basic sanity notion of just having a quote, unquote normal life. Cleaning up your kitchen and going to work and doing a good job and meditating—like that's all you need. You know, you didn't have to do this fight against society. You just kind of go along with the energy."

  • Dungse Jampal Norbu: Cultivating the Mind with Awareness

    January 29th, 2019  |  47 mins 32 secs

    "[Meditation] can be a little unfamiliar and scary, but it's something that we all can do. We just lean into it. Lean into the openness. What is it like to just be free? I mean, think of when you graduated college for instance—you'd been studying your whole life—filling your time with acceptance essays or homework or a thesis or something like that, and then you come out the other end of the education curriculum. And suddenly there's all this room. It's like, what do I do? And society says get a job. But for a brief moment when we graduate—it’s like what's all this space? What's going on here? It's a little like that."

  • Kate Mazuy: Healing through Wilderness & Equine Therapy

    January 22nd, 2019  |  31 mins 23 secs

    "The natural world is unconditional, and it welcomes us in whatever state we bring ourselves to it. It invites a level of presence. It sort of insists on a quality of presence, because while there's incredible stillness in the natural world there's also sort of constant movement—even if that's grass being blown by the breeze in a meadow, or a squirrel in a pine tree preparing for winter. There's always a little bit of movement and there's this quality of vastness, right? The natural world is so much bigger than us and in that unconditionality, I think we're invited into an experience that helps us deepen our connection with ourselves, but also helps us get out of our own way."

  • Bari Tessler: The Art of Money

    January 14th, 2019  |  55 mins 2 secs
    mindfulness, money

    Bari Tessler is encouraging people to take a more mindful and conscious approach to their relationship with money. When Tessler finished a graduate degree in Somatic Counseling, she sought financial help to help guide her career. She found that most of the financial guidance offered was coming from older white males and was focused on traditional money management, how to pay off loans, invest, etc. Tessler was curious, “Where does the body come in?” and her subsequent work has been about helping people examine and heal their relationship with money to lead more empowered, sucessful lives. Learn more about Bari and her work in this exciting conversation with Mindful U podcast host, David DeVine.

  • Encore Presentation: Lama Rod Owens: A Dialogue Between Love and Rage

    January 7th, 2019  |  37 mins 29 secs
    lama rod owens, lovingkindness

    There will always be suffering. But with meditation, we begin to transform our relationship to the suffering and therefore the suffering itself transforms too. Dharma is all about relationships - it’s about how we are centered within our sense of self. And ego how the ego is always interpreting phenomena. Ego interprets phenomenon to give itself life, and the narrative, and the purpose - but that purpose doesn't have to be about being happy and free. It can also be about suffering and pain. You know? Any way that the ego can actually differentiate itself, it will do that.

  • Encore Presentation: Phillip Stanley - The Relationships Between Sense Perceptions, Concepts, and Emotions.

    December 31st, 2018  |  29 mins 11 secs
    epistemology, experience, perception, philosophy, senses

    Naropa University presents encore presentations of our most popular and heartfelt podcasts from 2018, including Phillip Stanley talking on The Relationships Between Sense Perceptions, Concepts, and Emotions :

    Dr. Phillip Stanley, PhD, speaks about one of his favorite class topics: the relationship between sense perceptions, concepts and emotions. Such an exploration leads to surprising insights that leave students often dumbfounded. We think we know what sense perceptions are–concepts, and so forth–but if you start looking into it it can be quite surprising.

  • Encore Presentation - Dr. Itai Ivtzan: The Discovery of Meaning and Purpose

    December 24th, 2018  |  38 mins 8 secs
    karma, naropa, psychology

    Naropa presents some of the most popular and moving episodes of MindfulU from 2018, including "The Discovery of Meaning and Purpose, with Dr. Itai Ivtzan."

    The disciplines of psychology and spirituality both offer us humans a gift. Psychology, being the mind-oriented discipline, seems to offer us a chance to envision ourselves within our surroundings. At the same time, spirituality invites us to move beyond the mind, and even beyond the definitions of a self. Most of us tend to focus on one or the other over our lives. But, in doing so, we often narrow our experience. When these two disciplines are married, however, we can achieve an incredible explosion of potentials to live life as fully as possible.

  • Encore Presentation - Rev. angel Kyodo williams: Liberation Through Radical Dharma

    December 17th, 2018  |  35 mins 6 secs
    angel kyodo williams, mindfulness, practice, radical dharma

    While Naropa University spends some contemplative downtime with families and friends for the holidays, we present some of our most popular an moving episodes from 2018, beginning with the Rev. angel Kyodo williams...

    Radical dharma and mindfulness - everybody is going to get a little taste of some meditation, and its great - whatever door you use to enter into practice is great. But - the conflation of mindfulness with a depthful practice that includes an ethic view is a problem. When mindfulness becomes yet another thing that we can modify, and we think is something that is there so that we can consume it, then it’s actually serving our ego. It's serving our ideas of who we are and who we would like to be seen as, in our performance as ourselves. In that way, it can become a factor in our incarceration rather than our liberation.

  • Sherry Ellms: Strengthening Our Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty

    December 10th, 2018  |  34 mins 9 secs
    environmental studies, ma resilient leadership

    How are we defining the self? Are we all getting into the real depths of the lie that we are separate, that we're separate entities? Sherry Ellms' students get to explore that separateness and realize that we've always been part of Earth. Consider this analogy: if you cut off my arms I will live. If you cut off my legs I will live. But, if you cut off my air, I will die. How can one say that my limbs are more a part of me than the air? We really are completely interdependent with all of life, and with all of Earth. If we have an enlightened sense of self; if it's an ecological self, then taking care of the earth is like enlightened self-interest. It's not being selfish, because we are connected with everything.

  • Richard Rudis: Therapy through Sacred Sound and Gong Baths

    December 3rd, 2018  |  49 mins 16 secs
    healing, music, richard rudis

    Richard Rudis spent years in Tibet and Nepal, and in the Himalayas, where he met many teachers and many fundamental teachings came forward. At some point, the outline of sacred sound healing became clear, and he introduced the gong once he found a manufacturer who was creating a poly-tonal instrument that was noble enough and had as much expansion of sound, overtones, harmonics, and frequencies that would reflect sacred sound healing as it came from tradition. Then, he started on the journey of offering gong baths.

  • Diane Israel: Finding Inner Healing from Body Image & Eating Issues

    November 26th, 2018  |  42 mins 47 secs
    diane israel, psychology, therapy

    Diane Israel's platform is about remembering wholeness and healing the complexity of humanity. Very inspired and excited and alive by exercise, she is still very much here to move. Her movie "Beauty Mark" is "...a raw exploration of this quest for perfection." Speaking about filming the movie: "I was like: 'This is what you want to work on -- like fitting in a smaller pair of pants. When we could be leading the world and changing the world and doing such incredible service.'" Diane made it her goal to change that, and to help others find the tools - in the plain air and out in the open - to heal their lives.

  • Jayson Gaddis: Exploring the Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships

    November 19th, 2018  |  38 mins 16 secs
    psychology, transpersonal psychology

    Being a better person within the dynamics of relationships really starts with our relationship to ourselves. We constantly cultivate our amazing relationship with who we are in the context of relationships. We can learn to have a better relationship with ourselves sitting on the cushion, and that's super useful, but getting the day in and day out feedback from other human beings telling me what an asshole I am is also powerful.