Meditation in classroom

What is Contemplative Education?


Contemplative education is an educational philosophy that integrates three critical elements.

Here’s how we practice those elements at Naropa University:

  1. Rigorous academics—Challenge yourself with the Naropa curriculum, which blends Eastern wisdom studies and traditional Western scholarship. Classes are small and thrilling. Understand that you will read and write a lot.
  2. Contemplative Practice—Bend your body and your mind through meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness practices.
  3. Experiential Learning—Apply the wisdom and knowledge you’ve acquired and gain career insight and skills through global volunteerism, internships, and community-based learning.

Why do all of this? To find the work of your heart. To prepare for it. And to live an openhearted life that nourishes your soul and your corner of the world. Naropa University is the nation’s leader in contemplative higher education.

Rigorous academics

Your classes will take you deeply into Eastern and Western thought as you study history, art making, culture, religion, psychology, and sustainability.

Guided by Naropa’s world-class faculty, you will engage this material full-heartedly, developing your creativity, communication, and critical thinking skills—skills the world—and employers desperately need.

Learn More about Naropa Academics  

Contemplative Practice

Practice makes great people, which is why contemplative practice in integral to the Naropa Experience. 

Meditation, yoga, t’ai chi, aikido, and Chinese Brushstroke. These are all ancient mindfulness practices that increase self-awareness, compassion, and even improve your mind.

We incorporate contemplative practices inside and outside the classroom to not only give you tools to live a joyous and meaningful life, but also to help you learn more about your life’s path.

Learn more about Benefits of contemplative practice

Experiential Learning

Classroom learning and contemplative practice will make up a big part of your education at Naropa but so will doing.

  • Internships: Naropa students have acquired leadership and professional skills through internships at the First Nations Institute, Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project, Denver Justice and Peace Committee, Global Response, Peace Jam Foundation, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and KGNU.
  • Service learning: Through your classes and co-curricular activities, you will have the chance to develop personally and professionally by giving of yourself. In the past students have built schools in Nicaragua, worked with Boulder’s immigrant youth, taught creative writing workshops in local schools, volunteered at organizations related to their majors, and earned their own bikes working for Naropa’s bike maintenance and rental program.
  • Global study: Naropa offers culturally immersive programs to help broaden your worldview in places such as Bhutan, India, China, the Andes and Amazon, and the Himalayas.
  • Research and creative work: Write and direct your own performance project. Perform in Naropa’s Jazz or African Marimba Ensemble. Conduct research in Naropa’s Consciousness Laboratory. Write a book of poetry or a novel.
Hands holding

Student Highlight

“Naropa was and continues to be the catalyst that allows me to break open into the spaciousness and vast love within, especially through the practice of Contemplative Education. The university offers profound opportunities for me to wake up to myself.”

— Alexandra Hawes
M.A. Contemplative Counseling Psychology, 2017