The value of contemplative education is measured in students' ability to effectively put wisdom and insight into practice. Many of Naropa’s graduates display this characteristic in their work within a variety of fields.
Damaris Webb (MFA, Theater: Contemporary Performance, ’08) took the contemplative dance practices she learned at Naropa and made them her own. Webb leads a workshop in Contemplative Dance Practice in New York City that evolved from Barbara Dilley’s course at Naropa University. A dancer, choreographer, and half-time professor of the performing arts at Naropa, Dilley designed the Dance/Movement Studies Program. She also served as Naropa University president from 1985–93. Webb says the practice she’s developed consists of sitting meditation, personal awareness practice (warming-up), and open space (improvisational performance).
“The inner practices are a willingness to returning again and again to the present moment with beginner’s mind, a willingness to not be attached to outcome, learning to tolerate less rather than more, the cultivation of kinesthetic delight (through synchronization of body mind), and a wholesome and relaxed vigilance of your inner journey.”
Amber Gray (MA, Somatic Counseling, ’00), a licensed psychotherapist and a registered dance movement therapist, offers psychotherapy, training, and program development throughout the world. She focuses on offering these programs to survivors of extreme trauma, such as earthquake survivors in Haiti. Gray uses contemplative practices to improve her work with trauma victims.
“Somatic, contemplative, and arts therapies are always the foundation of my clinical work, whether it’s in this context or in Albuquerque with refugees from Iraq. Contemplative practice definitely supports this work. I cannot imagine listening to the stories without this practice, which I learned at Naropa,” says Gray.