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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
FALL 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 77 and dance/movement therapy, while the transpersonal counseling psychology program includes wilderness-therapy and art-therapy concentrations. “All three are differentiated from other pro- grams in the country that draw from Buddhism in that they are experiential and practice-based,” Jack says. “The contemplative education model is very integrated in that way.” When it comes to incorporating mindfulness and other elements of the contemplative tradition into mainstream psychology, there has been a sea change in the past ten to fifteen years, says Jack, who recalls his own dissertation advisor warning against exploring mindfulness as a research topic because it wasn’t considered serious. “Now, it’s hot,” he says. Even the U.S. military is exploring mindfulness and other contemplative practices as ways to help soldiers man- age their stress on and off the battlefield, he notes. New initiatives at Naropa include a gap-year program that would allow freshmen to earn credit while doing ser- vice learning in India or South America, as well as a collaboration with the Royal University of Bhutan to create a semes- ter-long study-abroad opportunity. In addition, “There’s a lot of interest in how people can use what they learn at Naropa as a lever for work in the areas of economic and social justice,” says Lief. “It will draw from our approach to authentic leadership and nonprofit entrepreneurship. I think Naropa’s going to bring something unique to that space.” Colleges and universities around the country are increasingly incorporating contemplative education into their cur- ricula; two years ago, the University of Virginia received a $12 million gift to establish a Contemplative Sciences Cen- ter. Meanwhile, tech corporations such as Google and Apple promote mindful- ness at work, hoping to foster conscious leadership among their executives. “One of the real challenges in the mindfulness world right now,” Lief says, “is that it frankly can look like just another man- agement tool.” But at Naropa, a con- templative approach is much more than that. Says Lief, “It’s baked into the cur- riculum.” inspired her. “I had two thoughts,” she says. “I wanted to learn how to teach from a master teacher, and I wanted to figure out what to teach the next gen- eration of dance artists. I’ve been here ever since.” Dilley’s lifelong commitment is shared among Naropa’s faculty, many of whom have been there since the early days. As fortieth-anniversary celebra- tions get underway with a series of talks, conferences, and special performances, Naropa and those who have shared in its journey are taking stock. What sets Naropa apart from its peers in liberal arts education, says university president Charles Lief, is the incorporation by faculty of contempla- tive practices and methods within each class offered. “It’s bringing first-person inquiry into the classroom,” he says. In the 1970s, first-person learning—in which students develop mindfulness and bring it into the learning process—was decidedly outside of the academic main- stream, Lief says. These days, however, Naropa finds itself ahead of the curve. The school’s undergraduate program, which serves four hundred students, boasts degree programs in such fields as environmental studies, peace studies, religious studies, and traditional Eastern arts. For graduate studies, students can pursue a masters of divinity, an MA in religious studies or environmental lead- ership, or an MFA in writing and poet- ics, among others. But the centerpiece of Naropa’s aca- demic programming is the graduate school of psychology, which, accord- ing to the director, MacAndrew Jack, accounts for nearly 45 percent of Naro- pa’s student body of about one thou- sand. Its divisions include a degree in contemplative psychotherapy that calls for students to spend two weeks on retreat each semester and engage in at least five hours of meditation per week. But there’s no requirement to be Bud- dhist, says Jack. “We’re simply study- ing what Buddhism has to say about the mind and psychology.” A somatic counseling psychology pro- gram incorporates body psychotherapy PHOTOCOURTESYOFNAROPAUNIVERSITY Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche with students at Naropa Institute, 1976