Core Candidate Associate Professor
MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology
- Core Faculty
PhD, Columbia University
MA, University of Chicago
BA, St. Lawrence University
Dr. Sara Lewis is an anthropologist of religion and medicine who is also trained as
a psychotherapist. Her forthcoming book with Cornell University Press, “Spacious Minds: Trauma and Resilience in Tibetan Buddhism” investigates how Buddhist concepts of time, memory, and emotion frame recovery practices
within the Tibetan diaspora. Her work has been supported by Fulbright, the Mind and
Life Institute, and the Mellon Foundation. As a feminist and postcolonial scholar,
Dr. Lewis looks forward to joining with Naropa students and new colleagues in exploring
the dynamic—and challenging—intersections of social justice, engaged Buddhist activism,
and contemplative care.
For me, the most exciting aspect of contemplative education is watching students realize
that helping others discover their basic goodness and basic sanity is the most enriching
gift we can offer.
My research has been funded by a Mind & Life Institute Francisco Varela Award, Fulbright,
the Society for Psychological Anthropology, and the Mellon Foundation. An article,
"Trauma and the Making of Flexible Minds in the Tibetan Exile Community" was the winner
of the Condon Prize for Psychological Anthropology.
My book, Spacious Minds: Trauma and Resilience in Tibetan Buddhism will be published in 2019 by Cornell University Press. Links to articles and other
writing may be found here.
All of my work centers around coming to understand how individuals and communities
cope with the vicissitudes of life--not in spite of suffering, but through it, and
because of it. I believe there is potent and transformational power embedded in extreme
states, death, and calamity if we know where to look. That power always brings us
What book do you find yourself regularly pressing into the hands of students?
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
I have embarked on a new transnational project funded by the Mind and Life Institute
on death and rebirth within Tibetan Buddhist communities in India, Nepal, and New
York. I encourage students interested in research to get in touch with me!