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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  • Caitlin Winkley: Life Coaching: Blending the Spiritual with the Practical

    July 3rd, 2018  |  28 mins 58 secs
    life coach, life goals, personal growth

    Join us as we talk about blending the spiritual with the practical, busting some myths, and providing some tips on what it means to run a business from a spiritual vantage point. When it comes to the term "life coach," or any other spirituality-based profession, some of the myths are that you can use the law of attraction to just manifest clients or money into your life and into your business. While we believe that's really true, the elements that so often get left behind in your belief and practice in the law of attraction and manifestation is you showing up, and you actually doing the practical work.

  • Stephanie Yuhas: Approaching Interspiritual Dimensions

    June 18th, 2018  |  30 mins 27 secs
    interspiritual, spirituality, wayne teasdale

    Many people are unaware of the interspiritual dimensions of what we offer here at Naropa - the multiple dimensions that we have here. And the fact that a lot of what we've been researching and studying in the last few years is how millennials and Gen Z in particular approach spirituality. This term talked a lot about: "spiritual but not religious," is only the tip of the iceberg - it actually becomes detrimental to look at it that way. If we broaden it out, we find it’s really about interspiritual dimensions. In terms of spirituality, what Wayne Teasdale talks about is an opening of dialogue and a sharing of wisdom among leaders and practitioners of different religious traditions, because people are no longer satisfied with a singular affiliation. People need to be aware of all the possibilities - and young people, in particular, are not willing to say "I am only going down one path."

  • Olivia Meikle: Gender and Women's Studies at Naropa

    June 4th, 2018  |  33 mins 27 secs
    gender studies, naropa, women's studies

    It's our mission to grow more awareness of women's issues, women's voices, women's history, women's studies worldwide. We're still so far behind in knowing what we should know about the history of women in the world and their contributions, as well as the lived experiences of women, and the way it informs everything about the way our country operates, the way the world runs now. One can't really teach a gender studies class effectively any way but contemplatively. All of the best practices of contemplative education are what make gender studies unique, and they also make gender studies possible. Approaching this from a lecture standpoint , or from any other standpoint than just really being very aware of your students, being invested in them - not just intellectually but emotionally - is not going to end in success. Students are doing so much hard work, so much hard emotional work. They're breaking into traumas, trying to correct ways of seeing things they've experienced their whole lives. There is going to be serious emotional labor with these students, and Naropa is a wonderful place to do this.

  • Deborah Bowman: Naropa's Transpersonal Therapy Program

    May 28th, 2018  |  30 mins 29 secs
    abraham maslow, carl jung, transpersonal psychology

    The work of Carl Jung and of Stanislav Grof - as well as many others - have been under an umbrella of "transpersonal psychology," a field that was developed in the '50s as an extension of humanistic psychology. Abraham Maslow first developed humanistic psychology - a framework around many other professionals who were developing that branch of psychology, such as Fritz Perls and Carl Rogers, but Maslow defined the field. However, when Maslow studied individuals who were exceptional, he found that they all described mystical experiences. All of his subjects described experiences beyond the "little self" or the ego that gave them a connection to everything. Experiences where they weren't separate from others, and that helped them to understand that they were either not separate, or that we all share a unitive experience. When Maslow studied these people, he realized that there was a vast new field beyond humanistic psychology that included it, but went well beyond. This is the field of transpersonal psychology, and Naropa's program is among the best in the world.

  • Chris Cole: Bipolar Order

    May 21st, 2018  |  32 mins 32 secs
    bipolar strong, chris cole, waking up bipolar

    There is more to bipolar than just pathology. People are familiar with bipolar as a disorder that used to be called manic-depressive disorder, or maniac depression. Bipolar Order is a declaration of that, and a necessary bridge for people meeting the criteria for bipolar disorder, and particularly bipolar disorder in remission, to be empowered. Chris Cole is trying to activate and inspire people to be empowered, be bold, and be bipolar strong. Listen to Cole's podcast - Waking Up Bipolar - for more insight, and visit his website ColeCoaching for more information. Have a look at a selfie of Chris and David at Naropa!

  • Candace Walworth & Cynthia Drake: Interdisciplinarity–The Bricolage of a Naropa Education

    May 14th, 2018  |  29 mins 17 secs
    bricolage, education, interdisciplinary degree

    "I think of bricolage as an approach to interdisciplinary inquiry and to meaning-making. It comes from a French word meaning to tinker, and it's sometimes associated with improvisation, and sometimes associated with "do-it-yourself." I don't like that term as much because it's missing the collaborative aspect of interdisciplinary studies. Think about Levy Strauss observing craftspeople, noticing how they use materials left over from one project and creating something new. It's a sense of giving birth to what does not yet exist; improvising and using tools; fashioning tools–creating tools that didn't yet exist." - Candace Walworth

  • Paul Bassis: The Arise Movement

    May 7th, 2018  |  30 mins 36 secs
    arise, art, mindful, music festival

    "Da Vinci said "...motion is life." What better way to move than to some music cranking and to lift the spirit? There is something coded in our
    DNA - something really ancient about our need to be tribal, our need as humans to come together with other humans, and music calls us all. Music is that beat, that rhythm that we feel in our hearts when our hearts are beating together in that same groove. There's something going on there that we all long for. Something that we need that we don't find in many other places in our modern society." - Paul Bassis, Arise Co-Founder Find out more at http://arisefestival.com/.

  • Barbara Catbagan: Creating Resilient Teachers for a Crazy World

    April 30th, 2018  |  29 mins 2 secs
    education, teacher training, teachers

    How does teaching with a contemplative focus help teachers in a crazy world? When we have practiced how to love ourselves enough to stand in our own business, then we can be more empathetic to the context from which our students come. If I'm in a class with 27 students and one of them is having a particularly hard day or hard week–or life–then it makes it possible for me to resource my patience and my sense of humor, if that's called on to help that student remain focused. To help that student to create tools that help them get through the day, for themselves, within themselves. And, no matter what age you are, if your life circumstances are in your way it's really hard to get through the day. Every class we start with a check in, which gives me a sense of what's in the room. It doesn't take away from the content, because the content is still there. The check-in informs me and the rest of the class about how that content might be heard.

  • Empowering Underserved Communities: Holistic Life Foundation

    April 23rd, 2018  |  49 mins 14 secs
    holistic life foundation, meditation, public schools, yoga

    The Holistic Life Foundation is a Baltimore-based 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities. Through a comprehensive approach which helps children develop their inner lives through yoga, mindfulness, and self-care HLF demonstrates a deep commitment to learning, community, and stewardship of the environment. HLF is also committed to developing high-quality evidence-based programs and curriculum to improve community well-being. Listen as we discuss the Foundation and Naropa with its founders.

  • Elaine Yuen: Engaging Our World with Contemplative Practice

    April 16th, 2018  |  30 mins 55 secs
    contemplative healing, healing, trauma

    How do we blend contemplative practice with service in the world? How can we extend ourselves, offer ourselves to that world in an authentic way? One where we're not burning out at the same time? How can we support people both at the peak of tragedy, getting over the most difficult parts, as well as the lasting repercussions? We meet people there, with them, where they are, with an open heart, acknowledging with them moment by moment by moment. I feel that's where our contemplative practices are most supportive, helping us be more present with that moment to moment disillusion. There is one moment - the one moment that is all of our life really. This thought is embedded deeply in Naropa's curriculum.

  • Joey Marti: Healing Emotional Trauma Naturally with TiPi

    April 9th, 2018  |  31 mins 53 secs
    contemplative psychology, natural health

    T.I.P.I., the French acronym for “Technique d’Identification des Peurs Inconscientes,” or "Technique for the Sensory Identification of Subconscious Fears" in English, resets our emotional response to trauma naturally, using the body’s sensory memory to harmonize with the trauma's origin. Joey Marti discusses TiPi and how he uses it, and how Naropa's psychology programs helped him. A Colorado transplant who moved here to attend Naropa, Joey received his Bachelor’s Degree in 2014 in Contemplative Psychology with a dual concentration in Health & Healing and Somatic Psychology. While progressing through his studies, Joey realized that he wanted to further his knowledge within the myriad forms of natural medicine. This realization led him to the desire to be a Doctor; his ultimate dream is to assist in bridging the gap between the numerous fields of medicine, health, healing, and wellness.

  • Mark Miller: Contemplative Approaches to Music and Improv

    April 2nd, 2018  |  28 mins 56 secs
    improvisation, jass, john coltrane, meditation, miles davis, music, sonny rollins

    Improvisation is a wonderful contemplative practice–a mindfulness practice–a discipline that has to do with paying attention in a very precise way to what's going on in the present moment. It's about showing up–being open to whatever is happening musically, to whatever my colleagues are playing, or to the environment of the room–the acoustics, the audience, that sort of thing–and really drawing inspiration from that. Paying attention to all of that requires one hundred percent concentration. Music happens so quickly, so naturally, your intellectual mind really can't keep up with it. The brain can't be analyzing and explaining and interpreting why you're playing, you just have to play. To me, that means you show up and play who you are.

  • Rev. angel Kyodo williams: Liberation Through Radical Dharma

    March 26th, 2018  |  35 mins 6 secs
    angel kyodo williams, mindfulness, practice, radical dharma

    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.

  • Lauren Ciovacco: A Journey of Discovering Sanity

    March 20th, 2018  |  34 mins 12 secs
    alumni, college student, contemplation, naropa journey

    I remember it was after the first year I came back to Naropa–I was actually upset with my professors. I was like, "What did you all do? Whatever you offered me, I see the world in a new way now!" I was upset because I saw the world in its fullness. There were things I saw then–when I came to Naropa I was all sunshine and rainbows. It was all "...the world is beautiful and the world is great, and I am going to study Buddhism, and I'm going to be one!" It was an 'absolute' kind of thinking. But Naropa gave me a chance to actually stop, pause, and feel -- the suffering that is here too.

  • Lama Rod Owens: A Dialogue Between Love and Rage

    March 13th, 2018  |  37 mins 29 secs
    buddhism, dharma, happiness, lama rod owens, oppression

    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.

  • Anne Parker: Gross National Happiness - The Inner and Outer Practice

    March 6th, 2018  |  26 mins 58 secs
    bhutan, environmental caretakers, gross national happiness, himalayas

    When people hear the words "gross national happiness," they tend to envision a sort of idealization of what's really going on in Bhutan, the country that originated the concept. I watch our students while we're in Bhutan sometimes idealize things, and then hit a sort of crash as they see the reality, and then come out with a really deep sense of excitement and amazement about what's actually happening. We'd like to take that idealization off its pedestal altogether.

    A bit of context for our listeners, first: Bhutan is a small country–about the size of Switzerland–that climbs from about 600 feet in elevation to 23 thousand feet in elevation, and quite quickly. It’s a very steep sort of place, mashed between India and China. It’s a little country trying to do this very large, very brave experiment. The fourth king of Bhutan, when he was pretty young, came up with the gross national happiness term, pretty spontaneously. As a reporter was bugging him about the poverty of his country, here is what I believe was his exact quote: "We don't believe in gross national product. Gross national happiness is more important."