Yearly activities from 1991 through 2010 are summarized here. Scroll down the page to browse by year; click through the tabs to browse each year’s programs. You may also browse an overview of our past initiatives.
The Academic Program’s three primary annual events are the Summer Session, Retreat, and ACMHE Conference. The 6th Annnual Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development is an annual gathering of educators at Smith College offering rigorous investigation, reflection, writing, and discussion, guided by distinguished scholars and contemplative teachers who have already developed such courses.
The Contemplative Academy, the second annual Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education Conference, was hosted by Amherst College in Amherst, MA from September 24-26, 2010. Over 130 higher education professionals attended the annual conference, including a number of international participants from Italy, Australia, Dubai, Mexico, Canada and the UK. Contributed papers, poster sessions, plenary talks and contemplative practice sessions explored the ways that contemplative practice is serving higher education.
The fifth Retreat for Academics took place at The Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY from November 11-14, 2010. Much of the time was spent in silence, including some silent meals, or engaged in contemplative practice. Our academic retreats are designed to appeal to participants with a wide range of experience in contemplative practice, from beginners to seasoned practitioners.
The ACMHE Webinar series continued for a second year with seven presentations:
- Architecti et usus meditatio: Vitruvian Echoes in Contemplative Practice by Peter Schneider, Professor of Architecture and Chancellor’s Scholar, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver
- Contemplative Pedagogy and Deep Listening by David Haskell, Professor of Biology, University of the South, Sewanee, TN
- Contemplative Neuroscience by Richard Davidson, Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- No Time to Think: The American University and its (Anti-) Contemplative Roots by David Levy, Professor, The Information School, University of Washington
- Contemplative Arts and Society by Anne Beffel, Associate Professor of Art, Syracuse University
- Consciousness In Action with Raúl Quiñones-Rosado, Ph.D. and Rose Sackey-Milligan, Ph.D., Co-Directors, c-Integral
- Contemplative Environmental Studies: Pedagogy for Self and Planet by Paul Wapner, Associate Professor and Director of the Global Environmental Politics Program, American University
Pat Wallace, Professor of English at Vassar College and 2006 Contemplative Program Development Fellow, invited Mirabai to come to Vassar for two very full days in February 2010 to lead various sessions on contemplative practice in higher education involving diverse parts of the College’s community. Since the time that Pat received the fellowship, she has steered an increasingly more engaged group of faculty in contemplative education.
The Center was a co-sponsor of the 2010 Mindfulness in Education Conference: Mindfulness: A Foundation for Teaching and Learning, March 19 – 21, 2010, Cambridge, MA, which included a keynote address by clinical psychiatrist, researcher, writer, and award-winning educator Daniel Siegel.
The Center was very pleased to support the Summer Institute on Contemplative Environmental Studies: Pedagogy for Self and Planet planned by Contemplative Practice Fellow Paul Wapner, professor of International Relations at American University, and held August 1-6, 2010 in San Cristobal, New Mexico. This topic was particularly relevant in light of the oil spill tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.
Arthur Zajonc, Director of the Center, presented a two-day seminar at Merton College, Oxford, UK from April 13 -14, 2010: Contemplative Inquiry: A New Approach to Adult Learning.
The Center contributed educational materials and organized essays and articles from writers, teachers and Buddhist practitioners for the companion website for the PBS special, “The Buddha,” a film by David Grubin. As part of this initiative, Mirabai Bush hosted a PBS Teachers Webinar: “The Buddha: Teaching Mindfulness” with David Grubin, Amy Saltzman and Peter Brown on March 25, 2010.
The fourth Retreat for Academics took place at Marconi Conference Center, Marshall, CA from November 12 – 15. This was the first retreat held on the West Coast. 30 participants gathered for a time for reflection and practice, and the retreat offered instruction in a variety of contemplative practices, including contemplative methods that can be adapted for the classroom.
The fifth annual Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development was held at Smith College Aug 9 – 14, 2009. Thirty-five professors teaching at colleges and universities across the United States and Canada gathered to explore the impact that contemplative practices can have in teaching and learning. After five years, this gathering of educators in August at Smith College has become an established way to demonstrate how satisfying it can for professors to work across disciplines to explore the role of contemplative practice in their courses. This year, educators from Economics, Chemistry, Physics, Law, Art History and Architecture served as Summer Session faculty.
The ACMHE Webinar series launched in 2009, starting with An Introduction to Contemplative Pedagogy presented by Mirabai Bush and Arthur Zajonc on February 18th, 2009. Other webinars followed:
- The Science of Meditation presented by Arthur Zajonc and Al Kaszniak
- Developments in the Field of Contemplative Studies presented by Hal Roth
- Mindful Shopping: How Smart Consumption Can Benefit Beings presented by Daniel Goleman
- Contemplative Practice in the Science Classroom presented by Michelle Francl
- Visualizing Contemplation presented by Joel Upton
After a very challenging selection process due to the high quality of proposals submitted, eleven Contemplative Practice Fellowships were granted to thirteen professors.These fellowships have now been formally announced and a full list with abstracts can be found on our Fellowships page.
The Center also participated in the Mindful Learner’s Conference at CUNY Graduate Center on April 3 and co-sponsored the Mindfulness in Education Conference, Mindfulness: Foundation for Teaching and Learning, October 30 – November 1, 2009, Oakland, CA. This included a full-day workshop where participants will explored the many ways in which mindfulness can deepen and enrich their experience of teaching.
Center founder and longtime board chair Charlie Halpern taught a semester-long course for 20 students at the UC Berkeley Law School; Charlie and Program Director Doug led workshops at law firms and an evening CLE (continuing legal education) program on meditation and substance abuse.
In June, Sackey-Milligan attended “Deep Change: Transforming the Practice of Social Justice” in Asheville, NC. Eighty-five people representing intermediary organizations, funders and frontline organizations gathered for three days to explore how to apply transformative practices to the work of social justice organizations.
In July, she served as one of eight mentors (adult allies) to a small group of young leaders who gathered for a four-day intensive retreat to share from our diverse backgrounds in grassroots organizing, social movement history, integral theory, whole systems thinking, nonviolent social change, anti-oppression, spiritual practices, and community building. At the end of the retreat, the group developed an outline of a toolbox and curriculum on integral activism for the next generation of social change that can be offered to youth and student activists.
In September, she accepted an invitation to attend a 3-day retreat at Naya Retreat Center, Buyukada Island, Istanbul, Turkey for sustaining activism practitioners, thinkers, funders and healers sponsored by Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Boulder, CO. A small group of women, representing each continent, in intimate conversation, explored how to sustain the well-being of women in a transnational struggle who cares about women and girls and deeply involved in reversing human rights abuses. Rose led two contemplative practice sessions at this gathering.
The Social Justice Program hosted “Accessing our Best Inner Resources for Service and Social Action: Meditations of Natural Wisdom and Compassion” with Lama John Makransky, PhD, assisted by Julie Forsythe and Leah Weiss Ekstrom at First Churches, Northampton, MA, on Saturday, November 14, 2009.
A Regional Meeting on Contemplative Practice in the Religion, Philosophy and Psychology Disciplines was held on March 28 – 30, 2008 at Amherst College.
The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, the first professional association for contemplation in higher education, launched on May 1, 2008. The Association is modeled on other learned societies, supporting scholars and researchers investigating and implementing contemplative practices and promoting the emergence of a broad culture of contemplation in the academy.
The Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development was held at Smith College from August 3 – 8, 2008. The Center accepted an increased number of participants this year; 40 professors attended including international representatives from Thailand and Brazil.
The Contemplative Practice Fellows Meeting, held Oct 31 – November 2, 2008 at Seasons in Kalamazoo, MI, is a tradition going back to the first years of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society’s Contemplative Practice Fellowship program. This weekend-long gathering brought together a diverse group of scholars and educators to present their research and share their experience and resources.
From November 13 – 16, 2008 at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center in Phoenicia, NY, the Center presented its third Retreat for Academics to 29 participants representing 24 colleges and universities across North America. A range of practices, including mindfulness, movement and inquiry, were taught to deepen the teachers’ personal practice and to suggest ways of bringing these methods to the classroom.
Board Chair Charlie Halpern continued to guide and coordinate, for the fifth year, the weekly meditation group at the Boalt Hall School of Law (University of California at Berkeley).
The Law Program helped seed a new program and steering committee in contemplation at the University of San Francisco law school, and a meditation program at the San Francisco Superior Court.
In February and March, Program Director Doug Chermak led two panel discussions at the Berkeley Law School (on the role of contemplative practices assisting law students in social justice work) and Golden Gate University Law School (on the work of the Center’s Law Program).
In April, we hosted “Effective Lawyering: A Retreat for Legal Professionals,” a four-day retreat at Angela Center in Santa Rosa, CA. Practices included sitting and walking meditation, yoga, qi gong, intentional conversation, and role-playing. Legal discussions were focused around ethics, communication, the elimination of bias, and working with emotions. 60 lawyers, mediators, judges, and students attended. This retreat was co-sponsored by Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the San Francisco Bar Association.
From June 12 – 15, the Center hosted a gathering of twenty leaders in the Contemplative Law movement at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. We shared personal and professional experiences in law and contemplative awareness, reflected on recent successes and obstacles, and brainstormed ways to support each other and further integrate contemplative practices into the larger community of legal professional to catalyze new CLE programs, law school courses, retreats, and other efforts.
From September 11 – 14, over 40 lawyers, judges, mediators, professors, and students gathered at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center in Phoenicia, NY. This was the program’s first east coast Law Retreat since 2002. Teachers Charlie Halpern, Susan B. Jordan, and Norman Fischer presented talks about enhancing capacity to be trustworthy, relating to emotions, bringing a meditative perspective to zealous advocacy. As one participant remarked, the retreat helped to “gain perspective and create space to be less reactive and more thoughtful – which given the stresses and pressures playing on each lawyer today is a tool of tremendous utility.” This retreat was co-sponsored by the City University of New York School of Law.
In October, Program Director Doug Chermak co-led an introductory meditation session for clinical students and staff at the East Bay Community Law Center, a legal services non-profit in Berkeley. They have begun a weekly sitting group for lawyers and staff.
In December, Law Program Director Doug Chermak co-led an evening CLE (continuing legal education) program on meditation and substance abuse with members of the National Lawyers Guild, an association of activist lawyers and legal workers. About 25 public interest lawyers attended. This was the third such program; another has been planned for December 2009.
From April 28 – May 2, 20 emerging social justice activists and organizers gathered with 4 experienced veteran activists to deepen mindfulness, reflection, and contemplative techniques at our spring retreat, “A Gathering of Activists and Organizer of Color.”
“Shifting Metaphors: Activism as a Path to Awakening,” a summer retreat, took place on June 13-15th on the Smith College campus in Northampton, MA. 50 activists, organizers and social work students met in retreat with Rev. Ryūmon Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín to reflect on shifting the metaphor of the activist from one who fixes the injustices of the world to one who is a witness and healer of the tear in the world. This retreat offered retreatants the opportunity to enter into stillness, spaciousness and community as a way to explore these questions through the teachings and forms of zazen (sitting meditation), kinhin (walking meditation), dharma talks, authentic movement and wisdom circles.
“Deep Replenishment and Connection: Meditations of Loving Communion and Presence for Social Justice Activism and Service,” a summer retreat, took place at the Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY on July 18-20, 2008. 20 inter-generational activists, organizers, social workers, and therapists gathered in retreat with Lama John Makransky and Leah Weiss to explore the value of meditation of loving communion and wisdom.
The national and regional fellows of the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP), headquartered in Washington, DC, have been working with our Social Justice Program (SJP) since 2005. SJP conducted two contemplative practice training sessions for 60 of their emerging leaders in ELP’ s New England, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Networks.
The Center for Community Engagement at Amherst College connects service learning, personal growth and social change. SJP conducted a workshop on contemplative approaches and social justice for 75 participants.
SJP staff attended Through Her Eyes, a conference organized by the Center for Human Development, Springfield, MA to address effective approaches to working with young women in the Commonwealth of MA Care and Court System. SJP offered a workshop, “Sustaining Energy, Sustaining Spirit, Sustaining Soul: A Dialogue on the Value of Contemplative Practices for Social Change Workers.” This was an opportunity to share information about the Center, SJP and network with over 250 activists, organizers and human service providers in the northeast.
In May, Contemplative Practice Fellowships were awarded to 11 professors of English, Philosophy, Native American Studies, Political Science, Japanese, Religious Studies, Mathematics, Anthropology, Women’s Studies and History.
We assumed control of the selection process and administration of the Contemplative Practice Fellowship Program. Prior to 2007, this was managed by the ACLS.
Thirty-five participants attended the third annual Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development held on August 12th – 17th at Smith College in Northampton.
We convened a gathering on Contemplative Practice in Higher Education of 30 Academic Fellows and representatives of both the Center and Fetzer Institute on October 5-7 at Fetzer Institute.
25 people participated in our first Retreat for Academics, November 1-4, 2007 at the Trinity Conference Center in Connecticut.
We planned and developed the framework for the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (launched in 2008)
We convened a one-day workshop November 7, 2007 at College of the Holy Cross to conceptualize development of contemplative studies program: Contemplative Practices across the Disciplines and the Search for Ethics.
We continued supporting the development of the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University, which this year has expanded to create the Scholarly Concentration in Contemplative Studies at the Brown Medical School.
The Bay Area Working Group continued its ongoing monthly meetings and periodic day-long retreats to explore the meditative perspective and how it relates to various facets of law practice and life as a lawyer.
The April 2007 Lawyers’ Retreat was a huge success. This was our biggest retreat ever, with over 80 participants. It was the first meditation retreat for half the participants. This retreat was co-sponsored by Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the San Francisco Bar Association.
On June 27, Program Director Doug Chermak presented the work of the Law Program to “New Bottom Line in the Law,” a group that is part of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, an organization started by Rabbi Michael Lerner.
On September 29, 40 judges attended “Meditation and the Law: Practical Skills for Judges and Lawyers” at the California Bench Bar Biannual Conference, Anaheim, CA. Charlie Halpern (Chair of the Board, Contemplative Mind), Michael Zimmerman (lawyer and retired Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court), and Ron Greenberg (retired Alameda County Superior Court judge) led the three-hour meditation workshop at this California biannual judicial conference.
On December 3, Doug Chermak, Law Program Director, and Susan B. Jordan, Working Group member, co-led “An Evening of Meditation for Lawyers,” a 2.5-hour evening meditation workshop, at a civil rights/employment law firm in Oakland, CA. The event was co-sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild. About twenty lawyers attended.
We also conducted a series of daylong experiential workshops in contemplative practices for The Environmental Leadership Program.
“Sitting in the Fire with Integrity,” a one-day retreat on March 3rd, was a collaborative effort between The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and Zen Peacemaker Circles. The workshop gave participants practice “sitting in the fire” with self, with another, and within a group. It focused on distinguishing between our thoughts and stories about the fire and really “sitting in it” or feeling it with one’s whole body and mind. Participants learned communication skills to transformation and develop relationships.
Our spring mentoring retreat, “Transforming the Culture of Organizing through Contemplative Practice,” was held at Trinity Conference Center, West Cornwall, CT, April 17-20, 2007. This retreat was facilitated by 12 mentors, 6 serving as peer and 6 in an inter-generational capacity.
Rev. Ryūmon Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín lead a 2-day retreat, “Awake to this Moment: A Zen Meditation Retreat for Activists and Organizers,” on July 27-28, 2007. This retreat was a collaborative effort between the Smith College School for Social Work and The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. It was designed to support activists and organizers who wish to deepen their meditation practice.
On October 20th, “Toward an Integral Approach to Liberation and Transformation,” a one-day retreat and discussion with SJP mentor Raúl Quinoñes Rosado, brought together 35 community residents in higher education, social justice and the social service field to reflect on the themes of liberation, social action and contemplative practice.
We convened “Contemplative Practice in Arts Education,” our first academic disciplinary meeting, in Boulder, CO, February 9th-12th.
We co-sponsored a one-day symposium, “Mindful Learners: Uses of Contemplative Practice in the Classroom,” at the CUNY Graduate Center on April 7th.
The Academic Program hosted its second Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development at Smith College from August 13th – 18th, 2006. The Center welcomed 30 college and university professors and 10 returning professors from across the United States and Canada. Presenters included Marilyn Nelson, Contemplative Practice Fellowship Recipient and Poet Laureate of Connecticut, who spoke on the use of contemplative practices in her pedagogy and writing process.
On Sept 19th we hosted “Research on Contemplation and Education” at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The gathering was led by Arthur Zajonc and Mirabai Bush.
On September 30th we co-presented “Creativity, Consciousness and the Academy: Bridging Inner and Outer Dimensions of Learning, Teaching, and Research,” a conference at the University of Michigan School of Music.
On April 2nd, Raúl Quiñones-Rosado, author of Toward an Integral Approach to Liberation and Transformation,led a discussion drawing on liberation psychology, integral theory, and thirty years of community work, anti-oppression organizing and spiritual practice. His presentation introduced an integral framework for liberation and transformation that seeks to transcend dichotomous, fragmented and reactive approaches to personal, community, and societal change.
From May 30th to June 2nd, mentors and emerging community leaders gathered at Menla Mountain Training and Conference Center, Phoenicia, NY, to explore personal and organizational sustainability at “Transforming Organizing Culture through Contemplative Practice.” Thirty-nine activists and organizers participated.
On July 14th, we hosted a one day retreat with Terri Nash: “A Day for Activists to Reflect, Renew and Regenerate.”
On August 19th, Ryūmon Gutiérrez Baldoquin led a one day retreat, “Opening to the World: Transforming Anger into Compassionate Action,” focusing on how to approach anger in ourselves when struggling for justice.
“Transforming the Culture of Organizing Through Contemplative Practice: A Gathering for Emerging Leaders” was held at Menla Mountain Center in Phoenicia, NY, from October 12th-15th.
The Law Program led a meditation workshop at the annual Joint Judicial and Management Conference held by the Superior Court and Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia on May 10th-12th. Half of the 100 conference participants, both judges and court personnel, attended. Center Chair Charlie Halpern and Gina Sharpe, an attorney and teacher at New York Insight, taught mindfulness practice and qi gong and introduced the work of the Law Program.
On November 14th, the Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley School of Law) Meditation Group welcomed Norman Fischer, a Contemplative Mind Board Member, as its special guest. Norman guided approximately 30 participants in a half hour meditation and offered comments about the cultivation of the inner life and its importance to one’s training as a lawyer. Norman then hosted a discussion period, where many questions focused on the way to be an effective lawyer while maintaining an open heart.
On December 1st, Charlie Halpern and Douglas Chermak, Law Program Director, led a meditation training for lawyers and advocates from Bay Area Legal Aid, an organization of legal service providers in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was the first organization-specific training offered by the Law Program.
The new Strategic Plan is implemented for 2005-07. Objectives: Expand the Academic, Law, and Social Justice programs; build networks and communicate our successes.
Five Contemplative Practice Fellowships are awarded to support individual or collaborative research leading to the development of contemplative courses and teaching materials.
The first Contemplative Program Development Fellowships are awarded to three groups of faculty and administrators who are developing curricular initiatives in contemplative studies of both a formal and informal character.
The first residential Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development is held from August 19-24, 2005 at Smith College. The summer session prepared participants to return to their classrooms with a deeper understanding of the practice of contemplative teaching. 32 professors from colleges and universities throughout the US and Canada attended the week-long session at Smith College.
In December, we held a regional meeting on Contemplative Practice in Higher Education at Mary Washington College for Fellows and others engaged in this work.
For the third year, Charlie Halpern and Law Program Coordinator Doug Chermak co-lead the Boalt Hall Meditation Group.
The spring Law Retreat is held at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre, CA, from April 14-17, 2005. Discussions include lawyering in the context of right livelihood, working with conflict, and working with judgments.
The Center held “An Introduction to Meditation for Legal Professionals” at the Wheelwright Center at Green Gulch Farm.
In February, the SJP held a kick-off event at The Talking Drum Café, Holyoke, MA, where members of the local social justice community were introduced to the offerings of the Social Justice Program. Rose Sackey-Milligan also led a workshop at the Environmental Leadership Program’s Fellowship Orientation Retreat.
In March, the Center and SJP were represented at a 3-day national planning meeting at Howard University titled “Quality Public School Education as a Civil Right” for teachers, researchers, public officials, educational activists, school administrators, and others. SJP also began working with GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental organization, over a two year period to support to establish a contemplative organization.
In April, Youth Program Director Dan Edwards led a workshop at the New England Organization of Human Services Education conference. Rose Sackey-Milligan also led a workshop for 75 participants at the Northeast Clean Water Action conference; joined Boston-area activists and organizers at “Breadth and Vision,” a spiritual activism and meditation gathering sponsored by Social Justice Education, Jamaica Plain, MA; and helped to plan “Dismantling Racism in the Valley,” a summit at Hampshire College which brought together community organizations, high school and college activists and organizers, and faculty and staff of the Five Colleges.
Earlier in 2005, the Center received an invitation from Omega Institute for Holistic Studies to participate in their “Service Week”. During this week, selected non-profit organizations could use their facility, including lodging, classrooms, and other amenities for the week free of charge. In May, we extended invitations to Omega to a diverse group of activists and organizers representing 19 organizations, who were able to spend 75% of their time at the retreat in an unstructured way, to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. The rest of the time was used for round-table discussions on the challenges and successes of maintaining a consistency of practice, and how SJP can continue to support the integration of contemplative practices with social action at both the individual and organizational level.
In June, the Center helped steward a meeting hosted by stone circles on spiritual activism, which included 50 individuals in the field and also allies from other sectors (media, funding, academia, etc.) The purpose of the meeting in part was to articulate and document spiritual/contemplative approaches and practices in the social justice movement. Rose Sackey-Milligan, Mirabai Bush, and Board members Rachel Bagby and Rachel Cowan attended the gathering, and were energized to be in a space where the accomplishments of the movement thus far and the momentum toward future activism were so evident.
In July, the SJP was also led two workshops for the Environmental Leadership Program. We also co-sponsored “Awakening to Freedom: an Honest Conversation on Race and Privilege” with Hilda Ryumon Gutiérrez Baldoquin, a Soto zen priest, who facilitated two contemplative retreats, one for people of color and another for a multicultural group of social justice activists and community residents in Holyoke, MA.
On September 22-25, an intergenerational multi-ethnic gathering of 6 elder mentors and 34 northeast emerging community leaders, serving as activists and organizers, gathered at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY for “Transforming the Culture of Organizing: A Gathering for Emerging Leaders,” to explore the place of faith and the contemplative in past and current movements for social change. At the gathering’s end, three regional affinity groups were formed by participants in New York, Boston, and Western MA.
Starting in October, we provided 20 staff members of the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition with monthly hour-long workshops.
In November, SJP was invited to attend a meeting (Building Up a Dynamic Sisterhood) in Washington, DC convened by the SpiritHouse Project a national organization that uses research, action, the arts, education, spiritual reflection, and analysis to bring diverse peoples together to build a just and non-violent movement that propels us toward a beloved community. We also held two one-day Social Justice Program regional intensive retreats, for participants from Western Massachusetts and Boston.
In December, the SJP held a one-day workshop at Refugio, Brooklyn, to address how to use mindfulness practice to sustain activism in the face of suffering and burnout. Participants explored cultivating imagination, a calmer disposition, intuition, creativity, values, ethics, compassion, and positive well-being. SJP also hosted John O’Neal and Junebug Productions for an experiential workshop in story circles for activists and organizers at the Center for Contemplative Mind. Finally, we conducted a presentation to a class titled Leadership in Action with Spirit at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.
On July 13-17, Mirabai co-led the conference/retreat, “Practice of Engaged Meditation: Waking Up In the World” at Hollyhock, Cortes Island, British Columbia. Tami Simon, Noah Levine, Charles Halpern, and Susan Halpern were the other co-leaders of the retreat, which was presented by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Sounds True, and the Hollyhock Leadership Institute.
On August 4th, Center staff introduced contemplative practices to the Northeast Inclusion and Diversity Steering Committee of National Grid (locally known as Mass Electric). They were celebrating the Committee’s one-year anniversary, and asked The Center to help them as they reflected on their year of service and the challenges ahead. The group of twenty-four was diverse, open, and thoughtful. Dan Edwards (Youth Program Director) and Mirabai Bush led them in mindfulness, deep listening, and contemplative compassion practice.
On August 15th, the Center brought Joseph Goldstein to Smith College to deliver a talk on meditation practice. The lecture was part of the Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum development.
The Fetzer Institute funded two years of Contemplative Practice fellowships; we are now offering two types of fellowships for the new season: 1) Contemplative Practice Fellowships to support individual or collaborative research leading to the development of courses and teaching materials that integrate contemplative practice into college courses, and 2) Contemplative Studies Program Development Fellowships, offered as support to groups of faculty and administrators who are developing curricular initiatives in contemplative studies.
In May, at the invitation of Naropa University in Boulder, CO, the Center co-sponsored a meeting of Contemplative Practice Fellows and other professors from across the region. The meeting focused on the theme of exploring contemplation in education.
A meeting of the Contemplative Practice Fellows was held at Smith College, Northampton, MA, in November.
Through a generous grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, we held a Social Justice Mentoring Retreat at the Garrison Institute in New York in September. We connected younger social justice workers with more experienced mentors in a cross-generational exchange on how to use contemplative practice as a tool to sustain ourselves and our social change work.
The Bay Area Working Group, which began in 2004, continued to hold monthly meetings. The Working Group held a retreat in April 2004 at the Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville, CA.
The fall Law Retreat took place at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, in November.
In 2004 the Center developed the MPower component of the Youth Program. MPower was created to work with youth workers, training them in how to use contemplative practices to help adolescents build skills in four areas: awareness, equanimity, empathy, and foresight (predicting the consequences of behavior and learning to make responsible behavioral choices). The MPower program consisted of bi-weekly meetings and on-site trainings for individuals from 12 youth-focused organizations in the Springfield, MA, area. The trainings were conducted by Dan Edwards and Akim Ndlovu.
We developed a new website for the Academic Program, featuring syllabi of Contemplative Practice Fellowship recipients and a bibliography of books that have been helpful to their teaching and course development.
In February, Mirabai Bush and Maia Duerr participated in a symposium titled “Contemplation and Community” for college and university chaplains at the Garrison Institute in New York.
In June we convened the fifth Contemplative Practice Fellows meeting at Seasons Retreat Center for the most recent “class” of fellows. The meeting provided an opportunity for fellows and committee members to learn from each other’s experiences, to practice together, to build community, and to look ahead at the future of our work in higher education.
The Law Program began bringing together the Bay Area Working Group, a monthly meeting of a diverse group of meditators with various connections to the law, including law professors, a retired judge, a practicing judge, a mediator, a law student, practicing attorneys, and others. The group is led by meditation teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer.
The Center became an official organizational sponsor of a new initiative within the Harvard Program on Negotiation, the Harvard Negotiation Insight Initiative (HNII). This initiative, led by Harvard Law graduate Erica Fox, is intended to “explore the interface of contemporary negotiation theory and practice with alternative frameworks including some drawn from perennial wisdom traditions.” Mirabai served as part of the working group. <
On May 7, the Center co-hosted a half-day seminar at Stanford Business School. Presenters included Jack Kornfield, Charles Halpern, Bob Shapiro, and Rachel Remen.
In the summer, we worked with Healing the Heart of Diversity to integrate contemplative practices and diversity training at a division of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.
Mirabai also advised Jeremy Hunter, of the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, on developing a course for business executives.
In February, we completed work on a Survey of Transformative and Spiritual Dimension of Higher Education, a project of the Fetzer Institute. The report served as the basis for Fetzer to discuss strategies to support transformative, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of higher education.
Also in February, CNet Director Maia Duerr offered a workshop at the Worcester Peaceworks Conference.
In March, we held a retreat and digital storytelling workshop for CNet research participants at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, MI. The goal of this retreat was to help participants find a medium to express the power of their work to the general public and also to share these skills with others in their programs
Maia’s article on “The Contemplative Organization” appeared in the October 2003 issue of the Journal of Organizational Change Management.
During the year, the CNet team conducted three on-site case studies of organizations to help us create a more in-depth look at “contemplative organizations.”
Work began on the Contemplative Toolbox, a collection of resources and information for bringing contemplative practices into organizations.
In April, the Youth Program collaborated with Gandara Mental Health Center to provide a series of after-school programs for kids in Springfield, MA.
We also worked with the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, to develop a mentoring program for young people ages 19-25.
In September, Dan Edwards spoke at “Nurturing the Spirit of Youth,” a conference at Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA.
Mirabai delivered the keynote address at “Works of Love: Scientific and Religious Perspectives on Altruism,” sponsored by the Metanexus Institute at Villanova College, Philadelphia, PA.
We began a quarterly e-newsletter, full of news, events, and resources, beginning with a summer 2003 issue and continuing to the present.
The Academic Committee met for two days in New York City, 14-16 February 2002, to build a plan for action beyond the fellowships. David Scott, former Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, joined the committee.
During the 2001-2002 academic year, the Center also participated in a number of research projects and initiatives addressing the role of contemplative practice and spirituality in education. Our participation in these activities is broadening our understanding of the field and informing our planning. The Center continued to serve as a special advisor to the research project originally begun by Howard Gardner, Harvard; Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Claremont; and Bill Damon, Stanford.
The circle continued to widen in May at the Fetzer Institute when the Law Program hosted “Law and Contemplative Awareness: An Exploratory Gathering” for 30 lawyers, judges, mediators and other innovators. The connections between the contemplative and spiritual dimensions and law and social justice were explored in various forms, and the group shared a range of practices together as a way of deepening our experience of the inner life. David Link, President of Fetzer’s new International Centre for Healing and the Law, attended part of the event and generated much enthusiasm for future collaborations with the Law Program and with individuals at the gathering.
A March symposium co-hosted by the Harvard Negotiation Law Review and the Center featured the publication of Contemplative Practice Fellow and past law retreat participant Len Riskin’s important piece on the connections between mindfulness meditation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. The symposium brought national scholars on the subject of law and contemplation together with the Harvard community interested in both negotiation and contemplation.
Dan has been meeting with Springfield Community Outreach Partnership Center and the Holyoke Youth Alliance. Dan has also maintained an active relationship with Power of Hope, where he continues to be a counselor/facilitator, working with them to design an East Coast program.
Mirabai Bush participated in a panel discussion at Tricycle magazine’s annual conference. She also participated in the Mind & Life Institute’s planning meetings for a curriculum for secular ethics being supported by H.H. the Dalai Lama.
The Center created its Advisory Council, comprised of 23 esteemed leaders from many fields.
The Center continues its support of the “Humane Creativity and the Contemplative Mind” project at Harvard, Stanford and Claremont. Members of the board meet with researchers from the project. The Center provides the group with 35 names of contemplative practitioners for interview/research purposes.
Staff of the Center, some Academic Fellows and Yale Law Retreat participants attend and lead panels on contemplative topics at a conference entitled “Going Public with Spirituality in Work and Higher Education” held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The Center Continues to explore and develop collaborations toward a Five College Consortium, Mirabai presents the work of the Center to professors and Chancellor David Scott. Mirabai serves as an advisor to Scott’s staff in preparing the proposal for funds for the Contemplative Chair. Jon Kabat-Zinn gives the first lecture; Daniel Goleman gives the second.
The center provides meditation for the Environmental Leadership Program meeting.
At Whispering Pines Conference Center, in addition to 20 Yale students and faculty, 7 students and 1 faculty member from Columbia Law School also attend. Meditations and talks are led by Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg and Grove Burnett.
At Trinity Conference Center, meditations and talks are led by Joseph Goldstein and Grove Burnett. Steven Schwartz and Jack Himmelstein assume leadership roles, as do other members of the Law Steering Committee.
At the request of the Independent Sector, the Center helps plan a session on “Leadership with Spirit” at the Alliance of Nonprofit Management Association in Boston. The Center arranges for Lama Surya Das to lead meditations and to participate in open dialog with participants.
The Center supports Frederick Buell to write “The Contemplative Practice Fellowship Program” a detailed report of the Academic Fellowships including the recipients, projects and reflections.
Mirabai Bush and Joseph Goldstein speak before 100 attendees at a conference, “Mindfulness and Education” at the University of Massachusetts.
Mirabai and Steve Smith give a talk on “Mindfulness and Business” and lead meditation at Monsanto in Chicago and at Searle in Skokie.
A talk on meditation by Joseph Goldstein is held at Yale Law School.
The Center participates in a panel discussion on “Spirituality and the Law” at the meeting of the American Bar Association.
“Contemplative Practice in Prison and Beyond” initiated by the Prisons Working Group Project at Upaya, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Forms the National Network of Contemplative Prison Programs.
“Humane Creativity and the Contemplative Mind” – The Center hosts a retreat for Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and others.
“Bill Moyers Series: Living with Death” – Mirabai facilitates the discussion with Judith Moyers at Nathan Cummings.
“Wisdom of the Heart” – Mirabai facilitates a meeting of cross-cultural spiritual practices for opening the heart at Fetzer.
“Practicing Wisdom: Our Common Work” – Mirabai gives a workshop on Contemplative Mind practices and social change at IONS.
“SVN at Mohonk: Creating Sustainable Communities for the New Millennium” – The Center leads opening meditation and workshop entitled “Spiritual Opportunities and Challenges in Times of Significant Change”.
“Fetzer Staff Retreat” – Mirabai plans and facilitates.
“Inspired Leadership Retreat” – the Center organizes and leads a retreat with Steve Smith to deepen the connections among participants.
Mirabai and Grove Burnett of Vallecitos lead talks and meditations at a retreat for biotech scientists in Wisconsin.
1997 – The Center is Formed
In a meeting of the Executive Committee at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York City, it is decided that The Project on Contemplative Mind will become a non-profit entity with a tax-exempt 501(c)3 status and board of directors.
The Working Group holds an annual meeting at Airlie House in Virginia. The group welcomes new members and continues to refine its contemplative way of meeting. Discusses rich diversity of its membership, deepens engagement with its core issues, and processes for clear, critical discussion.
The mission statement is written: The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society works to integrate contemplative awareness into contemporary life in order to help create a more just, compassionate, and reflective society.
- Winning and non-winning
- Action and non-action
- Separation and connection.
The Working Group meets at Upaya Retreat Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Group identifies the following priorities:
- Philanthropy and spirituality – through supporting ongoing dialogues
- Academic Fellowships – through fellowships administered by the ACLS
- Youth Program – through participation in “Peacemaking: The Art of Nonviolence”
- Business Retreats – through collaboration with Monsanto
- Environmental Program – through a retreat for the Green Group
Mirabai turns her full time efforts to The Project on Contemplative Mind and passes her work in Guatemala to others at SEVA.
“Deep Thinking Skills,” a retreat for 15 top Monsanto executives, is held at Fetzer Institute.
The Project on Contemplative Mind participates in a series of focus groups conducted by John Doble Research to explore whether ordinary Americans are engaging in contemplative practice, and if so, which ones, and what language used to express the activity.
ACLS President Stan Katz agrees to partner with the Center to create Contemplative Practice Fellowships.
Charlie Halpern requests that Mirabai Bush, Project Director of SEVA Foundation, organize and facilitate the next meeting of the Working Group on Contemplative Mind. The meeting is held at Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Mirabai’s facilitation of mindfulness activities focuses the group’s process and clarifies its intentions to move from exploratory conversation to concrete plans of action.
The Executive Director of Fetzer Institute and the President of Nathan Cummings Foundation, Rob Lehman and Charlie Halpern respectively, agree to sponsor The Project on Contemplative Mind in Society under the administration of the SEVA Foundation. Mirabai prepares a detailed and illustrated report entitled “the Meeting of the Working Group.”
The Group decides potential areas of exploration and activity are:
Charlie Halpern visits Bob Shapiro, CEO of Monsanto, and initiates a challenging phase of the project’s work: to situate contemplative practice within a for-profit corporate context–especially within a corporation mired in public, environmental controversy.
Founding white papers were written by Steven Rockefeller, Bob Thurman, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Daniel Goleman, and Brian Stock.
The Working Group on Contemplative Mind meets at Pocantico, New York, to discuss the role of meditative practice in the fields of health, media and communications.
The intention is “not to isolate meditation, but to reflect on the contemplative traditions as powerful techniques that have potential for beneficial change in American society.”
The Working Group on Contemplative Mind forms on the occasion of a meeting entitled “The Role of Meditative Activities: The Self, Consciousness and Social Transformation,” initiated by Charlie Halpern of the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
Mirabai Bush prepares an evaluation of the two retreats held in 1991 (below), entitled “Nourishing the Roots of Social Activism and Reclaiming our Common Strength for the Common Good” for the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the New World Foundation. Charlie Halpern contributes the foreword.
In 1991, the formation of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society was precepitated by two key retreats:
- “Compassionate Awareness and Social Action”, Sharon, Massachusetts. The retreat was sponsored bySEVA Foundation, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and the Insight Meditation Society, and led by Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg.
- “A Retreat for Environmentalists”, Malibu, California. The retreat was sponsored by the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Ojai Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and led by Thich Nhat Hanh.
This time was also marked by a growing interest in the philanthropic community of the significance of dharma practice and social change.