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!
November 12th, 2018 | 38 mins 55 secs
contemplative practice, public education, teaching
Join us as we sit with Betsy Leach, Elementary Education instructor at Naropa, and discuss the multicultural aspects of public education, and how training in contemplative practices can enhance the experience for everyone. "My experience with students has always been that when they feel like you're real–like you're being genuine rather than pretending to be some perfect authority figure...they trust you and they are willing. I had students telling other students "You got to be good for Miss Leach because she keeps it real, and she's going to have your back!" That to me was huge, especially going into teaching at 22, with only a summer of training. It was really important to bring that humility, and not to pretend to know more than I did, and to be really transparent with students. When I had a bad day, where my lesson was not engaging, I would say "That wasn't as awesome as I wanted it to be. What could I have done better?"
November 5th, 2018 | 48 mins 9 secs
Listen in to get a history of the first year of Naropa's podcast, Mindful U, via an intimate discussion with our delightful host, David DeVine. From David: "So, before I was 14, I almost became like 8 different religions. But when I turned 21 -- I found Buddhism and what I realized is Spirit is within. So, I didn't have to -- go to church. And, like, kind of hear some stuff I kind of get, and kind of don't get. What I've realized is like we all have self-healing mechanisms within us and we just need to learn how to activate them and or find them within ourselves. So, we have the capability to find Spirit all the time."
October 29th, 2018 | 51 mins 50 secs
colorado, energy, investing
If we were to create a regenerative economy here in this region -- what would it look like? People say the Colorado economy is nothing but extractive industries–mining, conventional agriculture, oil and gas–and that's what it always has been, and what it always will be. But that’s not true. Colorado's economy is really predominantly services. It's educational institutions, a growing natural foods industry and organic agriculture, a lot of tech, and a lot of entrepreneurial startups. Outside of Silicon Valley, the Denver-Boulder area is one of the hottest startup communities in the world. There's tourism, the outdoor industries, and the cannabis industry. Put all of these together and they dwarf the so-called "heritage industries" of oil, gas, coal, mining, and conventional agriculture. We have a regenerative economy, and its actually already bigger than the old-fashioned extractive economy, but we don't recognize it. We don't celebrate it and we aren't asking: "What is it about our current economy that served us in the past, but is no longer?" Or, "What is the economy we do want, and how do we encourage that?"
October 22nd, 2018 | 51 mins 57 secs
integral, miller, yoga
What is the singular thread that runs through every spiritual tradition? Yoga nidra (nidra means "sleep" in Yoga) gives us a framework off of which to hang so many teachings. Yoga nidra is like a tree with many branches that many spiritual teachings can hang off of, and the main trunk is the singularity. Yoga nidra offers many branches to hang Eastern teachings off of, and one can also hang many Western teachings off of it too. We can see every western psychological approach and every eastern approach reflect one another, but we can also see the singularity within them that they all share in common, and so East and West fall away into one singularity of understanding. We can learn how to welcome the fact that all that we are is an expression that comes out of this deep mystery that has given birth to the entire cosmos. Everything, everything is part of that mystery. Every thought, every emotion, every body sensation, every person, every tree, every rock is that mystery incarnate. So, you have to think, "What am I trying to get rid of? What am I trying to change?"
October 15th, 2018 | 39 mins 56 secs
ecopsychology, ecosystem, sustainability
If we can protect top-tier predators then we can protect large wilderness areas. The United States wilderness system, the national park system, and the national forest system–which are unparalleled globally–could help us build the room in our hearts for wilderness areas. And that's what really called to me. As I went into a career at Boulder County Parks and Open Space, I really started to notice and get more concerned about climate change. I realized that we can protect wilderness from mining and logging and overuse and create the cultural space in our hearts for that wilderness, but we can't protect it from climate change directly. It has to be a change in the hearts of people. So, that got me really paranoid.
October 8th, 2018 | 36 mins 51 secs
commencement, graduation, krista tippet
"I have been thinking a lot these days in this world we inhabit about how our traditions give us companions and teachers, and that it's one of the most important things. In Buddhism, there are the lineages of teachers that are just absolutely critical–living and dead–but in Christianity, there is the communion of saints and the cloud of witnesses. It’s the same idea - but my tradition hadn't given me that. So, I discovered a lot of depth. Theology has a whole different set of questions about our lives and about what happens between people in the world–about our conduct moment to moment. Looking at the world with the eyes of a journalist, but with a theological education, I eventually had this idea for a public radio show, which is how "On Being" started. A show in which the theological part of life would be addressed with intelligence, and that would also be attentive to spiritual depth and the intellectual content of our traditions." - Krista Tippett
October 1st, 2018 | 35 mins 9 secs
compassion, energy, marlow brooks
Marlow Brooks teaches a class about the human predicament of being very diverse and celebrating differences. For instance, a fire-type person likes to be out in the sun, likes heat, likes passion. Hot, firey people want to lead. They have great senses of humor, and great heart, but they are prone to burning themselves out. Consider a water type person - a personality like winter, being in the depths under the ground, or like a ball on the ground, gathering potency, gathering wisdom. For them to go into situations with loads of fire might feel extremely threatening. Many people that show a propensity for water think they are depressed, or that they are too serious. This class is about learning to accept yourself and then learning to accept the differences in others. Every organism really has different ways of coming into its own. The compassionate approach is to give that organism the type of elemental energy that will nurture them into the person that they will, or that they could, become.
September 24th, 2018 | 39 mins 55 secs
peace studies, social justice
Look at statistics about our civic literacy in this country–we're in the grip of civic illiteracy largely because not all high schools and colleges are doing enough, though some might be. Not doing enough to make civic literacy actually enough of the required general education of the students. As a result, students have largely turned away–the humanities, which includes history and civics, have been demeaned. We've commodified higher education in such a way that we've actually monetized it. This is not a liberal or conservative issue–both sides are at fault in the continuing removal of civic education and history from high school and college curricula. Statistically, student participation in history majors, history departments goes down about 10 percent a year or every two years. Particularly at this point in our history, when everyone has an opinion about our history and what it means, and access to more information, opinions, viewpoints, and propaganda than ever before. We're politicizing history, which is why it's a lot easier for colleges and high schools to drop the subjects altogether, rather than to try and sort through it. Naropa's founder talked a great deal about creating an enlightened society, and he thought that Naropa should model that society institutionally. But he also thought Naropa should graduate students who would long for a better world, and who were willing to put their bodies, speech, and minds on the line for that world. This is why we're here at Naropa, and why we're committed to teaching a contemplative approach to social justice.
September 17th, 2018 | 45 mins 45 secs
Think about eco-poetics as not just a focus on degraded soil, air and water, but vibrational absence. When a species leaves the planet, they take everything with them. Their heartbeat, their flutter, their footfalls, their hooves. In the past 50 years, the planet has seen a 60% loss of all the wildlife. We've recently found out that we've lost 50% of the coral reefs in that time. Europe has lost 75% of its flying insects. I immediately started making rituals to create a place of extreme present. That's the purpose of what I do. And, when I am doing these rituals -- translate into all art forms.
"Each morning a blue jay screams at the edge of the clear cut forest
I scream with her at the bleeding stumps
Scream inside something borrowed like ocean, like skin
I want to see before I die a mink wearing a human scarf..."
– CA Conrad
September 10th, 2018 | 37 mins 8 secs
hatha yoga, meditation, yoga teacher training
It is important to cultivate discernment in the sense of a historical awareness: the ability to discern many different streams in yogic traditions, and understand their fundamental orientations, outlooks, and practices. This means not letting these different streams all get mixed up into a very vague notion of yoga, but actually appreciating the depth and integrity of each. And thus when we draw from each lineage, we gain greater access to its transformational power. I think that discernment is something that is missing in the broader world of modern postural yoga.
September 4th, 2018 | 36 mins 13 secs
census, mixed race, naropa, race
Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni on performing her wildly popular one-woman piece, "One Drop of Love," for the Naropa community as part of the Bayard and John Cobb Peace Lecture last Spring: "I have been doing this performance for 5 years, and have been in a lot of different communities–some certainly more receptive to the themes around race and racism and class and gender than others. Sometimes I think people feel uncomfortable with it, or maybe they're shy because of the stigma of being in a theater. But I got the sense after being here at Naropa for about a day that this might be a very embracing community–and that's exactly what it was. Still, something that I really appreciate about this community was its natural interaction–a kind of vocal interaction–which I don't always get. Naropa was just right there along with me, laughing out loud, saying "Hmmmmm...," and just offering both a wise and calming response."
August 27th, 2018 | 35 mins 44 secs
judaism, kedumah, mysticism, orthodox
Traditionally, Judaism is practiced by way of rituals. This includes actual ritualistic practices that involve ritual objects, but it also includes ritualistic prayer, as well as ritualistic forms of study, such as studying Torah in a certain way. My personal practice has shifted from one that is centered around ritual to one that is more about integrating the direct experience of presence, or of divinity, or of reality into everyday life. The rituals' original function was to facilitate that kind of a process, but there are more accessible ways for many people in our culture to access an embodied condition of presence in everyday life. There are ways that do not require people to engage in these complicated and inaccessible rituals that are relevant for someone in an Orthodox community, but not very relevant for 99 percent of the planet. For me, Kedumah represents a way to transmit the essence – the Primordial spirit of Judaism – into a paradigm that is accessible for anybody, really, originating from any tradition, anywhere, or from no tradition at all.
August 20th, 2018 | 34 mins 40 secs
children, illegal, immigration, mexico
There should be free movement. There's something about the monarch butterflies having freedom of flight and freedom of mobility that many humans don't have. We found out that in Mexican folklore the monarch butterflies arrive in Mexico at the very beginning of November–right around the Day of the Dead. The day after the Day of the Dead is the Day of the Children, and the mythology is that the monarch butterflies are the spirits of dead children returning home to Mexico. There are international protections for monarch butterflies, while there are children dying in the desert–children whose names are unknown–just a belt found with a name on it. That idea of not being seen, not being noticed made it seem like the migration of monarch butterflies was a great way to put these children's stories out and into people's consciousness.
August 13th, 2018 | 34 mins 30 secs
alc, leadership, mindful
Sometimes, especially in mid-career, we get a little stale. It’s nice to refresh by deeply and authentically getting in touch with what matters to us within our core purpose, within our values, and within why we're doing what we are doing. Part of the training that we provide is helping people who are already in leadership roles bring more of who they authentically are to their role. In the authentic leadership program, we emphasize three different competencies: presence, engagement, and change management. Enjoy the whole podcast to hear about how we train leaders to recognize and develop these traits.
July 30th, 2018 | 29 mins 32 secs
creative writing mfa, jack kerouac school
Sometimes we take for granted that text is an image–the letters are images–and there are some writers who are very conscious of that. When we're reading a book we take for granted that the text on the page is an image, and the focus of the book is what the text is communicating. Spend some time thinking about text as an image, like Rachel Blau DuPlessis's work. Rachel is a poet and a critic who also does collage poems. Poems that are made from collage, and they really emphasize text.
July 16th, 2018 | 38 mins 8 secs
psychology, spiritual, transpersonal
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.