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Speech, Mindfulness & the Contemplative Classroom: An Experiential Panel

Speech is one of the most powerful tools we have in teaching and learning – indeed, in society generally. Speech conveys meaning, articulates ideas, expresses understanding. In the contemplative classroom, speech itself becomes a form of mindfulness practice – for the student, the teacher and for the learning community as a whole. When we bring attention and awareness to speech, we ignite its potency for clarity, creativity and compassion. RSVP for this free event.

Join three founding members of the Naropa community as they share their insights and reflections gained over five decades of contemplative teaching and learning. Each will share an experiential practice to bring to life the power of speech in our everyday lives.

All are welcome. Those working in any kind of teaching capacity will receive helpful practices to integrate into their classrooms.

Carolyn Gimian headshotCarolyn Rose Gimian is the Executive Director of the Chogyam Trungpa Institute at Naropa University. Carolyn was the founding director of the Shambhala Archives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a major repository of Trungpa Rinpoche’s archival legacy. She is a past president of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives. The editor of many books by Chogyam Trungpa, she edited Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior in close cooperation with the author. Posthumously, she has compiled and edited the ten-volume Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, Mindfulness in Action, and The Future Is Open: Good Karma, Bad Karma, Beyond Karma, and many other books. Carolyn’s articles and essays are published in Lion’s Roar, Buddhadharma, The Best of Buddhist Writing, and other magazines and anthologies. She is also a teacher of meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhism. In the 1980s, she worked with Chogyam Trungpa on the development of an approach to mindfulness of speech, and she has presented this approach and related exercises to many students since then. In her work with the Chogyam Trungpa Institute, she has been inspired by the contemplative approach to education and the JEDI values instilled at Naropa. Her main focus at this point is on preserving and providing access to Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings, especially those on mindfulness and the contemplative approach. She is also very interested in supporting young leaders and teachers inspired by a contemplative approach to education.

Judith Simmer-Brown, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies Emeritx at Naropa University, where she has taught for over 40 years.  Simmer-Brown is the founder of Naropa’s Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education (CACE), and is a compassion trainer for the Compassion Initiative.  She has taught Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, interreligious dialogue, Buddhist chaplaincy, and contemplative education subjects.  She is a Team Leader for Fetzer Institute’s Sacred Story project, and is a Fellow for the Mind & Life Institute.  She  is author of Dakini’s Warm Breath:  The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism (Shambhala) and editor, with Fran Grace, of Meditation and the Classroom:  Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies (SUNY).  She serves as co-editor, with Hal Roth and Amishi Jha, of a Contemplative Studies book series for SUNY Press, and is Guest Co-editor of a Special Issue on Compassion and Skillful Means for Mindfulness Journal (Springer).


Lee Worley head shotProfessor Emerita Lee Worley began her career as an actress and director in NYC and was a founding member of Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre before she moved to New Mexico in 1972. There, she founded her own theater company, “Wit’s End.”

She was invited to Boulder to present at a theater conference being hosted by the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa and his Mudra theater group.  It was there that she was first introduced to Buddhist approaches to the arts. She says, “I was receiving answers to questions I didn’t even know I had been seeking.”

The following year, 1974, Lee returned to Boulder to teach acting and improvisation at the first session of Naropa’s Summer Institute. She studied the exercises that the Mudra Theater Group were teaching and became increasingly convinced that they held the key to performing as a spiritual act. Lee is now one of only a handful of people who hold this legacy of Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings called Mudra Space Awareness. She currently leads on-going practice groups in Europe and North America.

At the invitation of Chogyam Trungpa, Lee moved to Boulder two years later to become a founding faculty member of the new year-round, Naropa Institute. Along with several other artists and scholars developing a meditation practice in conjunction with their academic disciplines a lively collaboration was established. Lee created a Theater Studies concentration and later on, was a member of the arts faculty team who developed a BA in InterArts Studies.

More recently, in association with Professor Richard Brown, she helped develop Naropa University’s Master’s Degree in Contemplative Education, one of its first “low residency” programs. Within it she taught “live” courses, Presence in Teaching and Maitri Space Awareness as well as on line.

Over her 44 years of teaching at Naropa she played many other roles including: Deputy Provost, Interdisciplinary Studies Director and Advisor, Chair of InterArts Studies, Meditation Instructor, Creator and Artistic Director of the Garuda Theater Club.

She was also the first administrator of the Ngedon School of Higher Buddhist Studies and a faculty member there.  In 1997, Lee received her MA from Naropa University in Religious Studies, Tibetan Language track.

Currently she studies Vajrayana Buddhism with Nalandabodhi under the guidance of its teacher, the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. He has appointed her one of Nalandabodhi’s four Western teachers or Mitras. Mitra means “spiritual friend.” Her Buddhist teaching approach is built around the understandings of space and embodiment she learned through her years at Naropa.

She is the author of two books, Coming From Nothing: the Sacred Art of Acting and Teaching Presence: Field Notes for Players.


Upcoming Events:
  • Sep 11, 2024 @ 4:30 pm




Naropa University–Performing Arts Center
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Boulder, 80302 United States
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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.