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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  • Ian Sanderson: Survival Skills Through a Contemplative Model

    February 27th, 2018  |  29 mins 43 secs
    buddhism, martial arts, ninja, survival

    In the background of all of all martial arts–outdoor education, Buddhist mind science, indigenous thought–there's a fundamental aspect of how to be in the world, one that is predicated on an elevated awareness. That's really where we start in Naropa's contemplative-styled survival skills class. We could spend all semester learning techniques, tips and tricks–things like that–but we don't have enough time. There is not enough time in one semester to learn all of those things, and if there was, and we did that, we'd be jumping the gun on some other really, really important pieces. Particularly, the concept that most dire survival situations–in fact, most elevated situations, most dangerous situations–the great majority of them can almost always be avoided.

  • Joy Redstone: Compassionate Therapy, Counseling, and Poverty.

    February 20th, 2018  |  29 mins 13 secs
    compassion, mental health, naropa community counseling center, poverty

    A person has the right answer for themselves, and to express and ask for their needs to be met. It may not look like the answer that, ideally as a therapist, I might think would be best for them. But they have their own answers within, and every time we can be a conduit or a guide to helping them understand what their internal answers are and to actualize them, that's the gift we have to offer people.

  • Scott Rodwin: Awareness of the Built Environment

    February 13th, 2018  |  31 mins 48 secs
    ada, architecture, green building, sustainability

    We're asking questions about changing an ordinary classroom into something that is as wonderful and nourishing and sustainable as it can possibly be. How does it encourage a great learning environment? How does it become part of the beauty of the campus? How does it contribute to the sustainability of the campus? All these things get wrapped in. Sustainability is too often thought of as a technical overlay to other rules and requirements necessary for building. We don't want to look at it that way, but rather as the starting point–part of the holistic design. When someone says I need a thousand square feet for a classroom - we should be asking questions like "why do you need it? What are you trying to achieve? Who is going to be there? What experience should the students have in this classroom? Should there be a living wall in the classroom? Should there be flexible seating? What kind of indoor/outdoor connection are you looking for? What kind of natural daylight?" and so on. These are the sustainability aspects of our questioning, and the answers all go back into the holistic design of the built space.

  • Deborah Bowman: Gestalt–Awareness Practice, Healing in the Here and Now

    February 6th, 2018  |  31 mins 36 secs
    gestalt, here now, therapy, zen

    Gestalt therapy is a methodology one can use for therapy or for growth. I like to call it Gestalt Awareness Practice because it’s a way of working in the here and now for healing and growth. Gestalt - from German and not truly translatable into English - essentially means "the whole." Or something ever greater than the whole. It’s the idea that we're whole with everything and that our goal is to be whole within our self - not divided - not split. Using Gestalt Awareness Therapy, we can bring somebody back into the present by reminding them to breathe, or by reminding them of full body awareness. We can shuttle intention and attention from inside to notice what is going on out here. It can become a relational awareness practice where one is not just hanging out of the body - "... this is what I feel. This is what I think." But noticing facial expressions, body language, voice tone, and trying to see what the difference might mean between whether you're listening to me or not listening to me.

  • Ramon Parish: Discipline and Delight–An Embodied Education

    January 30th, 2018  |  29 mins 31 secs
    embodiment, naropa, parish, somasource, somatics

    Ramon Parish is a second-year adjunct instructor in Naropa’s environmental studies department currently teaching a course on Environmental Justice. He also works with Golden Bridge, and with a budding rites of passage networking organization called Youth Passageways. Parish continues to study SomaSource - the brainchild of Naropa professor Melissa Michaels - deep teaching about authentic movement, somatic-based mindfulness, men’s work and contemporary rites of passage.

  • Jeffery Pethybridge: Writing, Literature, and Contemplative Approach

    January 16th, 2018  |  29 mins 52 secs

    There's a real diversity of tactics about how to integrate contemplative practices into the study of writing and the study of literature and the creation of those ways of being. This is about what it means to approach writing through a contemplative way. One of the great joys about teaching here at Naropa is the openness of students to experiment. The real readiness at which they're willing to implicate their person and their body and their spirit. That approach to the whole person in the classroom is really such a gift to work with as a - as a teacher and a peer and a colleague and a fellow and a researcher.

  • Richard Brown: Contemplative Teaching

    January 2nd, 2018  |  31 mins 12 secs
    compassion, contemplative education, mindful students, mindful teaching, teaching

    At Naropa, the notion of contemplative education is one of drawing out the full richness of the student. In this episode of "Mindful U," Professor Richard C. Brown, core faculty in the Contemplative Education grogram, discusses what "contemplative teaching" is, and gives an example of techniques that work well for integrating it into ordinary classroom situations.

  • Stephen Polk: A City By and For the People

    December 19th, 2017  |  25 mins 11 secs
    city planning, permaculture, safety net, systems theory

    How might the city look differently if you were given more power to shape the contours of the cityscape, or to shape the available institutional fabric? How could our systems be organized differently politically? How could our systems be organized differently economically? What might a different economic system look like? And how could that economic system provide more material security, freedom, and more?

  • Travis Cox: Sustainability is Ecopsychology is Sustainability

    December 5th, 2017  |  28 mins 48 secs
    ecopsychology, environmentalism, green living, sustainability

    Ecopsychology is a field whose goal is to bridge our cultures' long standing historical gulf between the psychological and the ecological to see the needs of the planet and the person as a continuum. Transpersonal ecopsychology is the evolving exploration expression and embodied practice of the inter-dependence of humans in the more than human world, which tends towards to the health balance and optimal well being of all. A change in our internal landscapes might change our relationships with the land in a way that includes extending social ethics to the land and an examination of our loyalties, affections, and convictions.

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

    November 21st, 2017  |  29 mins 11 secs
    epistemology, experience, perception, philosophy, senses

    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.

  • Brigitte Mars: Herbal Health and Healing

    November 7th, 2017  |  27 mins 25 secs
    addiction, edible, herbal, herbs, medicinal

    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.

  • Scott Rodwin: Green Building 101

    October 24th, 2017  |  32 mins 23 secs
    environmental science, environmental studies, green architecture, green building, sustainability

    Scott Rodwin, Naropa University faculty teaching Building Design in the Environmental Department, will be talking about Green Building 101.

  • Jeanine Canty: Environmental Justice

    October 17th, 2017  |  30 mins 21 secs
    colonization, ecopsychology, environment, oppression

    ‘Oppressions of People and Oppressions of the Earth Go Hand and Hand’. Naropa Professor Jeanine Canty explains the link between social and ecological injustice and how throughout human history, the oppression of people of color has been inseparable from the oppression of the natural world.

  • Judith Simmer-Brown: The Science and Practice of Compassion

    October 11th, 2017  |  25 mins 58 secs
    buddhism, compassion, contemplative science, judith simmer-brown

    Looking at the ‘new’ science of compassion allows us to focus on what is right about human beings and understand how to cultivate kindness through exercises like compassion training. Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown also gives an example of a compassion training practice and shares a brief history of the mindfulness/compassion movement in the West.

  • Naropa President Chuck Lief: Welcome & Social Innovation

    October 4th, 2017  |  33 mins 6 secs
    naropa university, social entrepreneurship, social innovation, social justice

    Lief discusses his various roles at Naropa since its founding, and explains what makes Naropa University unique. He then gives an overview of the course he teaches at Naropa as a part of the Peace Studies undergraduate program, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.