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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  • 41. Marlow Brooks: Dancing Through Life with the Five Elements

    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.

  • 40. John Cobb: A Contemplative Approach to Social Justice

    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.

  • 39. CA Conrad: Poetry, Ritual, and Creativity

    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

  • 38. Nataraja Kallio & Ben Williams: Reining in the Wild Mind - Yoga Traditions and Studies

    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.

  • 37. Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni: "One Drop of Love"

    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."

  • 36. Zvi Ish-Shalom: Kedumah and Jewish Mysticism

    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.

  • 35. "Santuario|Sanctuary" - Children, Immigration, and the Migration of the Monarch Butterfly

    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.

  • 34. Susan Skjei: Training Today's Mindful Leaders at the Authentic Leadership Center

    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.

  • 33. J'Lyn Chapmann: An Exploration Between Text and Image

    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.

  • 32. Dr. Itai Ivtzan: The Discovery of Meaning and Purpose

    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.

  • 31. 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.

  • 30. 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."

  • 29. 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.

  • 28. 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.

  • 27. 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!

  • 26. 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