The point is not to abandon scholarship, but to ground it, personalize it, and balance it with the fundamentals of mind training, especially the practice of sitting meditation, so that inner development and outer knowledge go hand in hand....."—Judy Lief, trustee and former Naropa president
Naropa University has offered contemplative education to students for more than thirty-five years. Drawn from ancient Eastern teaching philosophies and Greek educational traditions, contemplative education at Naropa provides students a different way of knowing by combining rigorous liberal arts training with disciplined training of the heart.
Contemplative education transcends the idea that knowledge arises in the thinking mind only. Instead, it invites students to embrace the immediacy of their interior lives as a way to fully integrate what they learn.
Contemplative education is more than traditional education with a course in meditation added in; it offers a new approach to what it means to be educated in the modern Western liberal arts tradition. Woven into the fabric of the curriculum are practices that include sitting meditation, t'ai chi chuan, aikido, yoga, Chinese brushstroke, and ikebana. Students' engagement in these contemplative disciplines allows them greater depth of insight and concentration. Through this focused self-exploration, students and faculty learn:
- The ability to be present in the classroom and in their lives
- To engage in active listening with an open mind
- The ability to appreciate the value of another's experiences and perspectives
- To sharpen their insight and analysis
- To develop self-awareness and insight
- Enhanced speaking and listening skills
- An appreciation of the world's diversity and richness
The value of contemplative education can be seen in Naropa graduates' ability to put their wisdom and insight into practice through creative, insightful, and effective actions.