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Lions Roar : July 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 55 STUART LORD, president of Naropa University, on the value of contemplative education of genuine authentic community, allowing them to go beyond the limitations of tradi- tional education and reflect on the deeper questions of meaning, life, and purpose. While most don’t realize it at the time, what they are experiencing is a form of contem- plative education. At Naropa University—a world leader in contemplative education in Boulder, Colorado—meditative practices and awareness trainings are woven not only into our curriculum, but into the very lives of our students and the university com- munity itself. Today, higher education’s successes and failures are rooted in the inability to connect the mind and heart. We have developed keen minds but have failed to cultivate conscience and heart in our students. We prepare them for the lat- est iteration of the assembly line, but do Danny Sprague-Chaffin, a Peace Studies major at Naropa, formed a nonprofit organization, raised funds, and led the effort to build a school in a remote region of Nepal. not foster leaders who have the capacity to meet the world as it is and change it for the better. We educate in a vacuum. At Naropa, our solution is to step out of the void and into the world, reforging higher education into a holistic training that is grounded in contemplative pedagogy. As the president of Naropa University, I’m often asked, “What is contemplative education?” At its core, contemplative ed- ucation nourishes and supports a heartfelt and informed intelligence. Contemplative and meditative practices unlock the power of profound inward observation, enabling the learner to tap into a wellspring of understanding. In Cultivating the Spirit, How College Can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives, Alexander Astin, Helen Astin, and Jennifer Lindholm write, “The use of con- templative practices in higher education has demonstrated its positive effects on cognitive performance, releasing stress, and aiding in the development of the whole person, including development of interpersonal skills, emotional bal- ance, and academic skills.” A 2010 white paper produced by the Mind & Life Education Research Net- work cites the benefits of contemplative practice on learners: “Drawing upon research in neuroscience, cognitive sci- ence, developmental psychology, and education, as well as scholarship from contemplative traditions concerning the cultivation of positive development, we highlight a set of mental skills and socio-emotional dispositions that we believe are central to the aims of educa- tion in the twenty-first century. These include self-regulatory skills associated PHOTOSCOURTESYOFNAROPAUNIVERSITY