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The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Summer 2006 e-Newsletter
Summer 2006 banner

In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams


Mirabai Bush

Dear Friends,

I was at Zen Mountain Monastery, having walked up the Zen mountain in a fine mist, sitting in a cabin with 25 students. I was sitting on a chair because I had been in a car accident that hurt my hip, but most of the students were on cushions on the floor. I thought that a good question to get them to see some things about right livelihood, the subject of the workshop, would be, “What are you afraid of at work? What keeps you from being fully present?” I had been thinking about how my own fear that I might not raise enough money for the Center was keeping me from being more creative and light about it, which is just what I need to be able to succeed. So I asked them all to reflect on this question. Before we could start, one of the students living at the monastery raised his hand. I had noticed him earlier, because he brought hot tea into the cabin for everyone. I nodded toward him. “Why is it,” he asked, with a tone of urgency, "that people who have been meditating for 25 or 30 years still do such unconscious things? How can they still act without compassion?" Does he mean me? I thought, but what I said was, “Great question,” although it wasn’t exactly about fear and livelihood. “I’ve been thinking a lot about that.”

People come to the Center’s programs wanting to know what will happen to them if they develop and sustain a contemplative practice. They want to know if they will become better people. The simple answer is yes, but it is hard to predict the timing and quality of the change. It has to do not just with developing a strong practice in solitude but with bringing that practice and perspective into the rest of life: testing it and refining it in the laboratory of work and relationships and politics and parenting. This can be more challenging than the yoga posture or centering practice itself. Sitting in meditation this morning, I listen to sounds, one at a time: “what-cheer, what-cheer,” a red cardinal singing to his mate, then “zzzzzz,” a chain saw in the distance. Just noting each sound. Later in my office, Jen asks me about details for the Academic Summer Session but I keep thinking about how many people will be right for a meeting on research, and I have no idea what she has said. Practice: one thing at a time, listen with your full being. Sitting again, I want to get up before it is time. Keep breathing, learn patience. Later, I listen to George Bush talk about democracy in Iraq. Aversion, anger. Let it go. Keep breathing, be patient. You need energy to imagine an alternative (to war, not democracy) in order to d something about it.

The Center’s core message is that the way to live a life of insight and compassion and respect for others is to develop a contemplative mind (and heart) within society, in the midst of the stuff of every day. This is true whether you are an activist, a lawyer, a student, or a soldier. To do this, you need to learn and strengthen your practice without distractions, but the insights gained will grow into wisdom through bringing them into active life.

If you want to reflect more on this, read The Meditative Perspective (pdf) a thoughtful piece by The Center’s Bay Area Working Group on Meditation and Law. The meditative perspective, they say, is “the outlook that gradually develops through the thoughtful application of the effects of meditation practice to our daily living. By becoming more aware of ourselves through meditation, we become more aware of others, eventually gaining an enhanced appreciation and understanding of the quality of our interactions in the world. We begin to see ourselves and our work in a broader context.“

Enjoy the summer. Listen to the birds. And to each other.

In peace, Mirabai


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New Contemplative Practice Fellowships announced

2006-2007 Contemplative Practice Fellowships
For this year's competition, the selection committee especially welcomes proposals in which course content and contemplative practices are related to the consideration of social conflict and injustice, the amelioration of suffering, and the promotion of peace. Learn more about the Fellowships and get application materials on the ACLS website.

About the Fellowship Program:
These fellowships seek to restore and renew the critical contribution that contemplative practices can make to the life of teaching and scholarship. At the heart of the program is the belief that pedagogical and intellectual benefits will be discovered by bringing contemplative practice into the academy.

Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development

The Academic Program will be hosting its second Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development at Smith College from August 13th - 18th, 2006. This year the Center is welcoming 30 college and university professors and 10 returning professors from across the United States and Canada.

I participated in last year’s Session and it was, quite simply, the most intense, rewarding, and heart-filled gathering of academics that I’ve ever attended. I came away from the Summer Session with a much clearer sense of what I wanted to achieve in my own contemplative course, with a bunch of new pedagogical tools and practices, and with a renewed sense of how my goals and experiences as an educator fit (or might fit) with my life as a whole person.
- David Kahane, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta

Although registration is now closed for this event, keep an eye out for a report in our Fall newsletter, and keep your calendars free for next year's Summer Session at Smith College, August 12-17th!

Marilyn Nelson Presentation

Marilyn NelsonAugust 16th, 2006
7:30 - 9:30
Neilson Library, Neilson-Browsing Room
Smith College, Northampton, MA

As part of the 2006 Academic Summer Session, Marilyn Nelson, Contemplative Practice Fellowship Recipient and Poet Laureate of Connecticut, will be giving a presentation titled Toward a Poetry of Self-Forgetting at Smith College on the use of contemplative practices in her pedagogy and writing process. The presentation is free and open to the public; $10 suggested donation.

Marilyn Nelson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and comes from a long line of teachers on her mother's side. Her father was a career Air Force officer who wrote poetry and plays. Marilyn grew up on air bases all over the country and wrote her first poem at age 11. She earned her B.A. from the University of California, Davis, and holds postgraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., 1970) and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D., 1979) and honorary doctorates from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and Simpson College in Iowa.

Ms. Nelson was named Poet Laureate of Connecticut in June, 2001. Other honors include two Pushcart prizes, two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She was professor of English at the University of Connecticut in Storrs from 1978 to 2002, and professor of English at the University of Delaware from 2002 to 2004. Since September 2004 she is Emeritus Professor at the University of Connecticut and director of Soul Mountain Retreat, a writers' colony.

Please RSVP to by July 28th. Attendance without registration is allowed, but space for non-registrants is not guaranteed.

Editors note:
In February 2005, Marilyn Nelson gave a presentation on Contemplation and Academia, titled The Fruit of Silence. To read that presentation, and others from the Academic Program, visit

Opening to the World

a one-day retreat with
Rev. Ryūmon Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín

Saturday, August 19th, 2006
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

~Light lunch~
Suggested Donation~ $10.00

New Location: First Churches' Parlor
129 Main Street
Northampton, MA
The parlor entrance is located around the corner from Main Street, on Center Street, across from the Iron Horse.

RSVP by August 1, 2006
413-582-0071 or

To open to the world, just as it is, we must experience freedom. This freedom is always present, and is as close as the intimacy of breath. Practicing together, let us explore how to embody the freedom of living fully awake, so like the bodhissatva of infinite compassion, we can be open to, and appropriately respond to the cries of the world.

Rev. Ryūmon is a Zen priest in the Soto lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and the editor of the anthology, Dharma, Color and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism. She works nationally with western convert Buddhist communities and non-profit groups at the juncture where spiritual activism meets social change, and is the founder of Dragon Gate Zen, an intentional spiritual community committed to embodying awakening through living fully present in the world.

Co-sponsors: Zen Center on Main Street, Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley and Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

Nourishing Deep Being

A day for Activists to Reflect, Renew and Regenerate

a one-day retreat with
Terri Nash
Friday, July 14th, 2006
9:30 am – 5:00 pm

Potluck Lunch (provided by local folks)
at Linda Stout's
247 North Street, Belchertown, MA (10 Minutes from Amherst)

Cost: $100

Please Let us know whether you are coming by Friday, July 7th.
We will need to gather a group of at least 10 people to hold this event.

Contact: 413-369-9985 or

Terri Nash is a midwife of many realms, guiding families through the birth process as well as in the transformative journey of healing and spirit; long time mediation practioner; teacher of subtle energy classes and workshops; privately consults with individuals on their spiritual and healing journeys.

Co-sponsors: Spirit in Action and the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

Creativity, Consciousness, and the Academy

Bridging the Inner and Outer Dimensions of Learning, Teaching, and Research
University of Michigan | MacIntosh Theatre
September 30, 2006
8:30am - 9:00pm

As higher education strives to keep pace with today’s rapidly expanding knowledge base, an unprecedented need for new learning and research models arises. Students and faculty need to assimilate and synthesize important principles from diverse fields, adapt to change, and be aware of the social and environmental ramifications of their work. In the arts, an increasingly multi-ethnic and stylistically-eclectic creative landscape requires conceptions which cut across previously sharp boundaries between processes and genres. In the sciences, the capacity to probe and manipulate the basic building blocks of life forms not only yields intriguing prospects for enhancing the quality of life, but also raises fundamental environmental and philosophical questions whose resolution may be essential to the future of society.

Two domains of inquiry which are central to addressing these issues are creativity and consciousness. Creativity pertains to the ability to adapt, assimilate, integrate, and invent; in essence, to function effectively and contribute productively in our rapidly-changing world. Consciousness has to do with the nature of the mind, and particularly its capacity to experience various states of awareness. The fact that peak creative experiences often involve glimpses of transcendent states of consciousness points to a close linkage between the two domains, and suggests a complementarity between their respective types of inquiry. That meditative practices, which are a primary modality for investigating consciousness, might enliven an inner calm and heightened clarity which enhances the inventive, problem-solving activities characteristic of creative activity poses significant ramifications for education and research.

- Ed Sarath, University of Michigan Professor of Music
Chair, Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation
Director, Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies
and Contemplative Practice Fellow

For more info on the Conference, visit the Conference Web Page.

Presented by the the University of Michigan Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies, the UM School of Music, and the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.

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Uncovering the Heart of Higher Education

Integrative Learning for Compassionate Action in an Interconnected World

A conference sponsored by the Fetzer Institute, in partnership with California Institute of Integral Studies. The Center is a featured education program, offering a pre-conference institute, "The Contemplative Transformation of Higher Education," and 10 workshops.

February 22-25, 2007
Hotel Nikko | San Francisco, California

Do current education efforts address the whole human being—mind, heart, and spirit—in ways that contribute best to our future on this fragile planet? What steps can we take to make our colleges and universities places that awaken the deepest potential in students, faculty, and staff? This conference for administrators, student life professionals, chaplains, and educators will address the relationships between:

  • Curriculum and values
  • Intellectual, aesthetic, and moral intelligences
  • Technical competency and compassionate action
  • Critical reasoning and contemplative inquiry
  • Vocation and life purpose

Keynote speakers will include Alice Walker, Parker Palmer, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Robert Kegan, and Diana Chapman Walsh.
Center workshop leaders include Mirabai Bush, Arthur Zajonc, Andre Delbecq, Deborah Haynes, Mary Rose O'Reilly, Marilyn Nelson, Ed Sarath

Registration begins August 2006. Registration cost: $350 general, $300 for undergraduates.

Partnering Organizations
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco • Associated New American Colleges • Association of American Colleges and Universities • Council of Independent Colleges • League for Innovation in the Community Colleges • National Association of Student Personnel Administrators

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Report: Contemplative Practice in Arts Education Meeting

Contemplative Practice in Arts Education Meeting
Boulder, CO
February 9-12, 2006
excerpt from the 17 page report (for the full report visit
Written by Piper Murray

On February 9-12, 2006, the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society convened its first disciplinary meeting, “Contemplative Practice in Arts Education.” Held on the grounds of the historic Chautauqua in Boulder, Colorado and sponsored by the Fetzer Institute, the meeting offered the Center’s academic fellows and associates an opportunity to expand and deepen discussions begun elsewhere about the value of incorporating contemplative pedagogy into academic arts curricula.

Three main issues, offered by CCMS academic director Arthur Zajonc during the meetings opening circle, served to both frame and ground the discussion. First, the question of value: specifically, what value does contemplative engagement offer the arts in general, and each of the disciplines represented in particular? What does it add to our discipline— epistemologically, pedagogically, methodologically? Does it enhance the creative process, deepen students’ engagement with the material, or lead to specific insights that might otherwise be unavailable? Second, the question of language: supposing that contemplative pedagogies do have value, how do we communicate that value to others? Certainly this is an issue for any pedagogy, but it can be an especially complex for one rooted in spiritual, artistic, and wisdom traditions where value tends to remain implicit and, indeed, is often assumed to be beyond words. Given this, how do we put the wisdom of this work into words? How do we translate—for students, colleagues, administration—this wisdom into the agreed upon goals of higher education in the arts? And, finally, the question of how: That is, what are the specific practices that have been most useful in connecting each discipline to the arena of contemplation? What has worked well, and what hasn’t? Or, as one fellow put it in the opening circle, “What can I steal from you all and take back to my own classroom?”

To read the entire report, visit

Report: Effective Lawyering

Effective Lawyering: A Retreat for Legal Professionals
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
April 20-23, 2006

In April, we presented another successful Lawyers' Retreat, entitled: “Effective Lawyering; A Retreat for Legal Professionals," welcoming 74 retreatants to the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. The participants came from all across the country, with a majority from California. Our principal teachers, Norman Fischer, James Baraz, and Mary Mocine, gave excellent talks on racism (elimination of bias), joy in the law, and working with anger. In addition, Charlie Halpern, Chair of the Board, and Richard Boswell, Professor at UC Hastings, offered supplementary presentations on communications and zealous advocacy. Contemplative practices at the retreat included sitting and walking meditation, yoga, qi gong, intentional conversation, and chanting. It wasa powerful, meaningful, smoothly flowing program. Through large and small group discussions, participants embraced the promise of bringing a meditative perspective to legal work. It was an uplifting weekend and we are already looking forward to our next program at Spirit Rock in 2007!

Report: The Joint Judicial and Management Conference

Meditation Workshop at the Joint Judicial and Management Conference
Cumberland, MD
May 10-12, 2006

The Center led a meditation workshop at the annual retreat held by the Superior Court and Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia on May 10-12, 2006. Half of the 100 conference participants, both judges and court personnel, attended. Center Chairperson 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 Contemplative Mind Law Program. They also discussed the meditative perspective (, the bridge between the meditative practice and the work done by judges and other law personnel. There was great willingness by the judges to explore this practice, which was unfamiliar to most of them. We are considering the possibilities of carrying this work into other judicial settings.

Report: Transforming the Culture of Organizing

Transforming the Culture of Organizing
Menla Mountain Training and Conference Center
Phoenicia, NY
May 30th - June 1, 2006

On May 30th – June 1, 2006, a multi-ethnic gathering of mentors and emerging community leaders gathered at Menla Mountain Training and Conference Center, Phoenicia, NY, to explore personal and organizational sustainability in these politically challenging times. Thirty-nine activists and organizers participated.

For this retreat we sought younger activists and organizers with solid experience with spiritual practice and action. These mentors were between the ages 27 and 35, all working in the social justice movement. Among them, they had close to 60 years of active engagement in various social justice issues and contemplative practices. Two were persons of color. Our intent was to create an experience of peer teaching and training. The teaching was fresh and energetic. Participants appreciated that we honored, valued, and acknowledged the experience and skill of their peers. In fact, upon seeing this, others were prompted to offer their practices and skills for upcoming trainings and gatherings.

It was an exploratory gathering, a place for us to try out something new and learn from it. Throughout the days, we placed greater emphasis on personal and organizational sustainability. We offered skill building in meditation, movement practice, time management, creative writing, application of ancient wisdom to social justice work, building healthy work practices, and creating a long-term sustainable vision for social change work.

The entire training was focused on peer-mentoring and designed to engage activists, organizers, and movement builders in reflection and action about sustainability. We approached the relationship between practice and personal and organizational sustainability directly and intentionally. This was the first time that a full day and a half workshop was designed to build these skills directly. Everyone left with a commitment to bringing more balance and insight into their personal and organizational cultures.

Additional Upcoming Events

These upcoming events are not affiliated with the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, but we thought they might interest you.

DC Area Contemplative Law Group

The DC Area Contemplative Law Group is a group of lawyers who seek to balance the externally-driven practice of law with contemplative practices. We meet almost every month (see schedule listed below) for meditation and discussion in a private room on the third floor of Skewers/Luna Books (1633 P Street NW). The meetings run from 7:00PM to 9:00PM, but people often come early to chat or eat something.
Parking is $2.00 with validation.

Meeting Schedule for the Remainder of the Year:
Thursday, August 3
Tuesday, September 19
Thursday, October 12
Thursday, November 9
Thursday, December 7

For more information, email Linda Lazarus,

Mindfulness Training for Lawyers & Legal Professionals

With Grove Burnett, JD
September 13-16, 2006
at Vallecitos Mountain Refuge, Taos, New Mexico

This retreat is designed to offer a practical introduction to mindfulness meditation for lawyers. Lawyers live in a frenzied world of words, confrontation and action. We are heavily trained in analytical skills. The sources of our knowledge are external: statutes, regulations and written opinions. We are focused on achieving results. The pressures and stresses of practicing our profession are legendary. This retreat will include instruction and training in mindfulness meditation, including exercises and group discussion involving the application of mindfulness to the practice of law. Grove Burnett, a renowned environmental trial lawyer for over 30 years, has taught mindfulness mediation retreats for activists, lawyers and judges, the Yale Law School, corporate executes, and law firms.

Green Gulch Farm Workshop for Lawyers
Finding Equanimity in a Difficult Profession

September 22-24, 2006
Green Gulch Farm, Muir Beach, California
Led by Mary Mocine

In this weekend workshop we will enjoy the quiet and beauty of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Muir Beach, California. Through deep listening, discussion and quiet we will work with how we handle the anger that arises as we practice law in this contentious time. We will also look at our judging minds and how they support bias in the legal profession, and how to address that bias. The weekend will include plenty of time for relaxation and meditation as well. It is suitable for beginners as well as experienced practitioners. You may participate as a resident or non-resident at Green Gulch.

MCLE credit will be applied for: 1 hour elimination of bias and 2 hours ethics.
Mary Mocine is a former lawyer, now a Zen Buddhist priest. She leads workshops for lawyers at Spirit Rock (with Norman Fischer and James Baraz) and at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. For more information, contact Green Gulch Farm at (415) 354-0414
or Mary Mocine at or (707) 649-2480.

Educating for Peace: Spiritual and Ethical Perspectives on Peace and Justice
A Five-Part Lecture Series at Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC
June through November, 2006
Admission: free

The Peace Education Center at Teachers College, Columbia University will present a five part guest speaker series on the Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Peace. The series, funded by the Biosophical Institute, has the purpose of expanding the community outreach of peace education, providing an opportunity to inform a wider public and academic audiences about critical and timely peace related issues with special attention given to the role peace education can play in addressing and transforming these concerns.

Please note: this is preliminary information, subject to change.

Remaining Speaker Schedule:

Wednesday, July 12
Ibrahim Malik Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
Coordinator of the Peace and Disarmament, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Board Member, Temple of Understanding and Muslim Peace Fellowship
Topic: “Islamic values and transformative nonviolence: Are they compatible?”

September TBA
Tentative: Azza Karam
Senior Policy Research Advisor, United Nations Development Program UNDP Egypt
Former Director, Religions for Peace ­ Women's Program
Tentative topic: Religion, Women and Global Issues

Thursday, October 19
Dale Snauwaert
Associate Professor of Educational Theory and Social Foundations of Education
Chair of the Department of Foundations of Education
University of Toledo
Tentative topic: TBA

Saturday, November 4
Patricia Mische
Lloyd Professor of Peace Studies and World Law, Antioch College
Visiting Professor, School of International Service, American University
Co-founder and President Emeritus, Global Education Associates
Topic: “Educating for Peace at the Level of Our Deep Humanity.”

The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
199 Main Street, Suite 3
Northampton, MA 01060 USA
phone: (413) 582-0071
fax: (413) 582-1330

top image by John Berry
Marilyn Nelson photo by Fran Funk
Rev. Ryūmon Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín photographer unknown