Dear ,

The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE), an initiative of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society's Academic Program, is a professional association for members of the academic community who are integrating contemplative practices into teaching and scholarship.

We're sending you this newsletter because you are a subscriber to the Center's Academic Program mailing list. The ACMHE newsletter highlights the actvities and achievements of its members, and we invite you to join the Association and become a part of this growing community. This newsletter is sent to both members and non-members, but only members may contribute content.

(And if you are a member and have already received this issue, please ignore the repeat; it will not happen again in the future.)

Best wishes for the holiday season,

Carrie
Carrie Bergman
Webmaster, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education

Issue 4, Fall 2009

We're delighted to send you this autumn newsletter, with its harvest of another seasons' announcements from contemplative higher education. The circle of members continues to expand, in size and reach, and we now number over 400 from New England to West Australia. If you haven't visited the members' online community in some time, you'll find that opportunities to connect with one another have grown, and you might consider searching by your region or discipline to discover who else is around. And while you're visiting, be sure to check in with Rick Repetti, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Kingsborough Community College, who is now our online community "moderator." He's befriending everyone he knows and will be happy to make your acquaintance as well. Rick will be updating the forums and has started a blog (on the left navigation bar of his profile page) inviting you to share your perspective on practice in the classroom and other topics. We're grateful to Rick and others who are enlivening the online community with their presence.

The resources on the public pages of the ACMHE website have also expanded. There are new tabs for our growing archives of Webinars (September brought us Dan Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Ecological Intelligence, on conscious consumption, and in October Michelle Francl, professor of Chemistry at Bryn Mawr, presented on contemplative practice in the science classroom) and e-Newsletters. We've also added a Bulletin Board tab that members can use to post announcements in the following categories: Upcoming Events; Fellowships and Grants; Research Opportunities; Employment Opportunities; Seeking Employment; and New publications. Email text to carrie@contemplativemind.org and she will post.

We have the dates for our 2010 Annual Conference, which will be held once again at Amherst College. The call for papers will be posted soon, but please plan to join us September 24-26, 2010, to share your research, practice and presence with us in the splendor of the next New England autumn.

Kind regards,

Beth Wadham and Geri DeLuca

In this issue...

  1. "Visualizing Contemplation" webinar with Joel Upton
  2. 5th Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development
  3. The Contemplative Administrator
  4. Teaching Students to Turn Inside: Yoga and Mindful Awareness
  5. Announcements from Members
  6. Press Room: Members' recent publications and media channels articles

Webinar: Visualizing Contemplation

presented by Joel Upton, Professor of Art History, Amherst College
Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 3:00 - 4:00 pm ET
Free for ACMHE members; $5.00 for non-members

click here to register

Joel UptonPlease join us for this presentation on the expression of contemplation through art, architecture and the construction of meditative spaces.

Joel Upton writes, "In my experience, contemplative knowing is an especially potent reality, but it is interior. Although we often speak about contemplative knowing, we normally practice contemplation in silence and within the inescapable solitude of our being. There are, of course, obvious musical and dance alternatives to still, even shared, silence. Nevertheless, the contemplative goal remains the inner peace and heightened awareness contemplative practice will foster. Beyond the manifestation of outer calm through inner harmony, however, one might ask how specifically this essentially interior and private reality might be made explicitly public for others to see and perhaps emulate. With this question in mind, my presentation will attempt to visualize contemplation as one way to exteriorize and communicate this interior reality.

Using images and schematic drawings, I will offer an exemplary model that draws on meditative space as one might find it in Japan generally and in the sub-temple of Daisen-in at Daitoku-ji in Kyoto. Although I will give a Japanese name, “ainoma,” to the conceptual reality that informs this space, I will relate this particular visualization of contemplation to the more familiar language of Simone Weil and Henry David Thoreau.

About Webinar Registration
Submit the Gotowebinar.com registration form. After submitting the registration form, you will be forwarded to a payment page. If you are a member of the ACMHE, disregard this step (webinars are free for members); if you are not a member, you must submit the $5 payment for your registration to be approved. After your registration has been approved, you will be sent instructions for connecting to the webinar.

If you have any questions regarding registration or connection, email carrie@contemplativemind.org.

5th Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development

August 9-14, 2009 at Smith College, Northampton, MA
by Beth Wadham


Drawing After five years, this gathering of educators in August at Smith College has become an established way to demonstrate how satisfying it can be for professors to work across disciplines to explore the role of contemplative practice in their courses. This year, faculty from Economics, Chemistry, Physics, Law, Art History and Architecture worked with the group of mostly English and writing professors to their mutual benefit. Although the plan for next year may well include faculty from Language and Literature, the recognition arose that there is a "contemplative heart" of each discipline that can be shared with all.

In welcoming the participants, Arthur Zajonc remarked that "each one of us is an educator with our own competencies and specializations, and wants to prepare students in deeply responsible way, but we often feel we miss half the potential. Education has developed techniques over thousands of years to develop the exterior abilities of the student; we come together this week to give care and intention to the development of the interior." This complementary, "interior" curriculum, he proposes, can offer great benefits, and has practical applications in medicine (MBSR), technology (Google's SIY course) and the military (the Center's work with resilience for military caregivers). We deprive ourselves, he suggests, of half the resources available when our solutions to problems fail to plumb our own depths of insight and concern, and we end up with half-baked solutions, and in addressing the pressing issues of our time, partial responses are inadequate.

During the week ahead, the educators explored the universals that apply across curriculum, as well as particular practices designed for particular disciplines, in the interest of expanding the range of their students' flourishing capacities. In addition, practicing, learning and working together, they built the resources of a community that would sustain them in their home institutions in the future.


Brad Grant and Jody Ziegler



Arthur Zajonc and Daniel Barbezat



Mirabai and Arthur

At the close of the opening circle of introductions, Mirabai Bush shared Wendell Berry's poem, "The Wild Geese," setting the tone for what would be revealed over the course of the time together.
The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry ~
(Collected Poems 1957-1982)

(A full report of the Summer Session is being prepared by Beth Wadham and will be posted to the Academic Program reports page @ www.contemplativemind.org.)

The Contemplative Administrator

The Center's work in higher education, particularly the Contemplative Fellowship Program, has primarily focused in the past on working with professors who are integrating contemplative practice into the classroom. But the question of whether and how contemplative practice can play a role in institutional change through administrative and co-curricular initiatives has been a recurring one.

In September, a group of administrators participated in a conference call with Arthur Zajonc and Mirabai Bush to reflect on practice as it relates to this sphere of higher education, to explore the benefits of practice, for administrators themselves and in service to their academic communities.

Mirabai related her experience at UC Davis Extension School of Continuing and Professional Education. She was contacted by an advisor to the dean who had an interest in mindfulness, and was invited to give a PowerPoint of Center's work in higher education. The 25 or so people attending found it interesting, and wanted to bring the theme of mindfulness to their annual meeting of 125 professionals, mostly administrators and some teachers. But most of those attending the annual meeting hadn't yet asked for mindfulness themselves.


Maggie Jackson, Larry Vanderhoef, Dennis Pendleton, Mirabai Bush, Howard Schutz

So Mirabai arranged to start with a talk from Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: the Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, (recently out in paperback) and that got everyone's attention. Many could relate to the book's assessment of modern society's inability to focus, and the erosion of the capacity for deep, sustained perception. Jackson ended her talk by saying that one effective way to deal with distraction is to cultivate contemplative practice, creating the perfect entryway for an afternoon introducing basic mindfulness.

Now the dean is working toward making UC Davis Extension a contemplative organization. They've created mindfulness posters, a quiet room, and a resource library and they continue to develop other ways of integrating mindfulness into the whole organization.

Mirabai's story shows that there is receptivity to these ideas, if introduced skillfully, and a growing recognition of their value. After the conference call the group decided to send a questionnaire to the Center's contact list of administrators to take an "environmental scan."

The group of contacts represents diverse levels of responsibility, from department chairs to college presidents, but the responses so far suggest there are common challenges and a shared need for contemplative resources. The Center is compiling the responses and developing plans for the coordination and support of institutional initiatives that are contemplatively oriented. If you currently have administrative responsibilities in higher education and would like to add your name to the contact list and share your perspective by completing a questionnaire, please contact Beth Wadham.

Teaching Students to Turn Inside:
Yoga and Mindful Awareness
Interview with Carla Stangenberg

by Geri DeLuca


Carla Strangenberg
photo by Gina De La Chesnaye

Carla Stangenberg has been the director of the Jaya Yoga Center in Brooklyn, New York since October 2005 and has taught there since 2000. She received her certification at Om Yoga Center under the guidance of Cyndi Lee. Her teaching experience also encompasses the fields of theatre, acting, movement and voice. Carla holds a BFA in theatre from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She currently teaches yoga at Brooklyn College, CUNY as well as at Jaya. She is grateful to many teachers who have helped her along the way.

Geri DeLuca is a contemplative fellow at the Center for Contemplative Mind. She teaches English at Brookyn College.


G: How did you come to be a yoga teacher?

C: In 1999, I had been practicing yoga for something like seven years. I was working a day job I didn't really like, and one day I saw a sign up in the yoga studio where I practiced at the time (Om Yoga in Manhattan) that said "teacher training." So I thought to myself, that sounds interesting. What a nice way to deepen my practice. Doing the training meant I had to leave work in the middle of the day two days a week for 2 1/2 hours each time, but I got away for it. So that's how I became a yoga teacher. It felt like a natural extension of my yoga practice--like I had to teach.

G: Where did you begin teaching?

C: A few years before I was certified, I had taught movement and voice classes at a summer program at Northwestern University. When I taught those movement classes, I incorporated yoga, and it worked. Earlier, when I was in college at NYU, my movement teachers were incorporating yoga too, because they were all going to the same yoga studio, Jivamukti, on Lafayette Street, where I was going. So I followed their lead, and then I started teaching my friends. So I was teaching informally even before I got the certification.

My first real teaching job was in Forest Hills, Queens, in a continuing education program. There were about 30 people in the class, I traveled all the way out there, I made nothing, nobody had the right props, but I taught. Then I taught at yoga studios in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I taught everywhere I could, as much as I could, sometimes as many as 20 classes a week. That was it. That's how you get good. Sometimes I feel like an idiot savant, born to teach yoga, but still you have to practice, practice, practice. Pattabhi Jois, who founded Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, says, "Practice and all will come." Keep practicing and you will find out what you're doing, why you're doing it. The amazing yoga teacher Lisa Landphair said to me once, "It takes 10 years to be good at something."

G: That's a heartening idea: both that we get better and that it takes time.

C: Also, the more time goes on, the more I practice and try to "perfect" a pose, the more I realize that the practice is not so much about the pose but about what comes up in my attempt to do it. My perfection may not be a physical perfection but a perfection of understanding how to act in an effortless way, to do an action without a need for the outcome to be a particular thing. The Bhagavad Gita says it: perform without worrying about the outcome.

G: So what comes up--if you're trying to do a particular pose and not getting there?

C: What comes up for me are the same things I see in my students--because we're the same. I get frustrated, angry, doubtful, self-conscious, competitive, I get all of those things and that's helpful, because when I get on the New York City subway, all those emotions are going to come up in me, and if I have really incorporated my practice on the mat or cushion into the whole of my life, it won't be so bad because I will have already dealt with it in the privacy of my microcosmic universe of yoga practice, which is the same thing as the macrocosmic universe. So I can say, "Give me my frustration, give me my anger, give me everything that comes up with attempting to do something that is impossible." What happens when I try? Everything happens. So then, I learn what it's like to try and succeed, what it's like to try and not succeed--all of this with quotations around it. It's just like every other day. But when I try mindfully, it's an informed day, a more intentional day, I'm not just getting bashed around by advertising, the newspaper, I have a little bit more of a hold on the reins and I also know that eventually the reins are going to disappear. Does that make any sense?

G: The reins are going to disappear?

C: Well, impermanence is the focus of the month at Jaya, Geri, so that's all that I'm thinking about. Your successes will go. Because you'll get older, you won't necessarily be able to do the same poses anymore. One of my friends, a beautiful yoga teacher, came to my class recently and said, "You know, I'm aging and I feel it. I can't do the poses that I used to do, and I need to be in a class where that's going to be okay." She was looking for a place where she could be with the group but be left alone when she needed to be left alone, because of the situation she was dealing with, and it's the same situation we're all dealing with, which is that we're all getting older at the same rate. And this is not so dreadful. This is one of the recognitions that are probably going to set us free.

G: I find that recovery time is longer for me. I may do all the poses, but it takes a lot longer to regain my energy.

C: What does that teach you?

G: That I'm changing whether I like it or not and I have to be accepting of my body. But it's hard. I need longer savasanas!

C: Yes. We're all such go-getters and then we get to savasana and we're ready to let go. And what's that all about? It's called corpse pose, and by the time we're ready to leave, we're probably ready to leave! We're in corpse pose, and nobody's saying, No, I don't want to rest. We're enacting the progress of a life in a class.


Geri DeLuca (far left) at the Vermont Yoga Retreat
Photo by C. Stangenberg

G: What is it that you learned as a teacher, starting back in Forest Hills and coming up to the present at Jaya yoga? What is it at the center of your teaching and your practice?

C: Well, one idea that bubbled up inside me right away when I started teaching was that I wanted to teach people how to listen to their own intuition. I wanted people to listen to themselves. And in the several years that have passed since then, that's what I've been going after in my teaching, in some way. Who am I to teach intuition? Do I, after all, always listen to my own? But I'm teaching what I need to learn. I need to learn how to listen to myself. I was talking to a friend recently who said he goes to his lama, his guru, and he asked me, "Who do you go to? Who's your teacher?" And I said, "I go to myself." I do my own practice. I do of course practice with a few select teachers for technical details in the asana practice, but really I don't go to somebody else for the secrets. I figure I've got them, and you've got them. We've all got them. My mother's got them and my sister's got them and everybody who comes to the studio's got them. We've got the secrets. We just have to learn how to pay attention to this thing that's beating inside our chest. For me, the yoga philosophy seems to point, in part, to opening the heart so we can hear what it is saying. It seems to be the most sensitive organ we have. And if we listen down here, with our hearts, the energy can rise up to our skull, our brain, our top chakra, and when we look for intuition, the heart is the place to look. Not the gooey emotional heart but this deep, sensitive thing that's pulsating inside us. Buddha said, "Don't take my word for it. Find it on your own." I'm not knocking gurus, but I feel that. Test it out on yourself. What am I trying to do as a teacher? I've got to find it on my own so that I can know which way to go without hesitation, without dilemma. I can look in here. And what do you know inside? You're made of star stuff, I'm the same as the tree, the candle, the fruit, I'm the same as you. That's an intellectual understanding I have right now. Experientially I'm still looking. But the focus is awareness, finding it, paying attention.

That's what my syllabus, which is the most fabulous thing that anybody ever made me do in my whole life, says in my yoga course for Brooklyn College. The course is about cultivating awareness. We start with body awareness, left, right, arm, leg, head, tail, and then we start to talk about rotations of the bones, and then about moving particular muscles, being right side up, being inverted, being twisted. So we're working from outside in, but the goal is in. The goal is to observe what is within us. Outside is a little bit more confusing because there are all those McDonald's ads and we have to learn what to do with them. We get bombarded and we have to figure out how to get from point A to point B. So my students come to my class and I try to help them. Teaching Brooklyn College students is wonderful not only because of the diversity of their backgrounds, but also because of the diversity of their ages. It's tricky teaching the 18 year-olds, especially. You have to have a lot of patience with them. Their brains are still growing and they're not so ready all the time to sit there – so thank goodness for the asana practice. But I think they're so lucky to wind up in a yoga class where they can learn to turn their attention inside. They may not want to focus on their breath, they may not want to be told what to do, they may not want to sit up straight. You've got to have a lot of patience with them, and that's good for me because I'm not a terribly patient person. At that age, I didn't want to be told anything. And now here I am, not that age anymore, coming to them with a lot to tell them.

G: Can you talk about the relationship between hatha yoga, the physical asanas, and meditation?

C: Well I guess you can see yoga as meditation through movement. But in many ways, they're completely different. In yoga you're moving your body. In meditation you're still. I'm sorry. It's a completely different experience. In classical yoga, you're considering the eight-limbed path. There are the first two limbs, the yamas and the niyamas. How do you act in the world? How do you act with yourself? Then there's asana, the physical practice, which is the third limb; pranayama, the breathing/energy practice, which is the fourth; pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses, the fifth limb. The withdrawal of your senses, leads to dharana, the ability to concentrate, the sixth limb; then dhyana, meditative absorption; and then samadhi, the eighth and final limb, which is the immersion of oneself with the greater self. They build on each other. But Gandhi practiced just truthfulness and non-violence, two of the yamas that constitute the first limb, and he was a yogi. So yoga cannot be easily defined. The asana practice makes it easier for me to sit and be still. The knots in the nervous system get calmed down from the physical movement in all those different ways. If I practice asana for 20 minutes, I find it easier to sit. It won't take me 20 minutes to calm down. So maybe I can go deeper more quickly. But you don't have to do all of that to sit and meditate.

G: I've heard you say that when you do asanas, if you don't pay attention to your awareness, and your breath, then you're just doing calisthenics. So is there a qualitative difference in what's happening in your head that makes yoga feel yogic?

C: B.K.S Iyengar, one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, has stated somewhere that just by paying attention to the technical alignment of the body, your attention becomes focused, drawn inward, leading you to pratyahara--withdrawal of your senses. So there is a quality of mindful attention involved. As my body starts to open up, my knee is more willing to bend more deeply in Warrior Two, and as my knee bends more deeply, my thighbone is going to drop a little more, then my pelvis is going to be square, and then there's more balance in the pose, and then I'm in the place of effortless effort, and then my awareness is completely different. My attention is inside and I can feel what is real, if you would.

G: And you also have to know when to back off from too much effort so that you can feel your body centered, so that you're not in a state of enormous tension.

C: I think the practice gives you the route to how much effort is correct. And I believe that we all go through times of too much effort and times of too little effort. And we all have to go through that to find a place of balanced effort. I've had people tell me that they've taken two months off and they feel slothful, but maybe those two months will be the best of their life for their practice. Maybe it was too much, practicing for months or years, on the same schedule. You can learn so much from the two months off that you find something different when you get back than you would have had you just kept going. Every day is different. Some days we feel like a gazelle. Some days we're a bull in a china shop. With practices where the poses are always the same--like Bikram or the Ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice –maybe it's easier to tell what's going on with your body, what kind of day you're having. It may be a bit trickier for us who want to create new sequences from day to day.

But either way, it does make you feel alive. If you forget you're alive, do Warrior Two for 10 minutes. If you start to fall asleep, metaphorically, yoga wakes you up. It sparks this life, helps us to see, Wow, look at this body that I have. And then, the practice is so deep that we say, Wow, what about this yoga, and this philosophy and psychology?

G: And you feel so wonderful afterward.

C: Yes. Starting yoga is like a baby tasting ice cream for the first time, we're so astonished, wow, that feeling, that taste. Doing yoga is like that. It brings out that innocent quality in us--even the toughest cases, the most unhappy people, feel lighter. No matter what age you come into it, you understand that there's much to discover.

Announcements from Members

Contemplative Studies Group Proposed to American Academy of Religion
A group of colleagues has proposed the formation of a new program unit in the American Academy of Religion (AAR). The Contemplative Studies Group will be an interdisciplinary program unit aimed at the investigation of contemplative practice and experience. They will submit their proposal for group status to AAR this fall. The leadership group includes Anne Klein, Rice University; Louis Komjathy, University of San Diego (co-chairs); and Thomas Coburn, former president of Naropa University; Fran Grace, University of Redlands; Harold Roth, Brown University; and Judith Simmer-Brown, Naropa University as steering committee members. They are currently seeking others who would support and participate in the Contemplative Studies Group, and have their names added to their supporting materials.

Graduate Certificate Program in Contemplative Clinical Practice, an advanced certificate program in Spirituality and Social Work practice at Smith College
An advanced certificate program in spirituality and clinical social work practice considers the clinical relationship as a potential locus of the sacred. The program provides a framework for assessing religious and spiritual development and explores issues of ethics and social justice as they relate to spirituality.
Cultivating awareness is crucial for clinical practice in a complex, global world. The capacity of the clinical social worker to pay attention to the dynamics of the clinical relationship can be enhanced by continuous self reflection and contemplative practice. Contemplative practices can deepen awareness and develop a stronger connection to one's inner wisdom. Practices originating in religious contexts and those being created in secular contexts can deepen the reflective experience for both the clinician and the client.
For additional information and application materials, visit this website.

Course on Restorative Solitude and Workshop on Distraction
Mara Adelman, Seattle University
solitudecourse.com
contact: mara@seattleu.edu
After attending the weeklong Summer Session offered for academics by The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, I was inspired to create a new course in The Department of Communication at Seattle University entitled "Restorative Solitude." This course merges the research on contemplative practices, solitude, and voluntary simplicity and its significance for human communication. The website covers the curriculum, readings, exercises, and related information. Your feedback to this course and ideas for future courses would be greatly appreciated.

Short Description: The 21st century may well be characterized as the age of "solitude loss." We are wired as never before. Technological advances propel 24/7 engagement, responsiveness and feedback; but when can we find the solitude to reflect, to process information into ideas or even into inspiration? This interdisciplinary course examines the topic of restorative solitude and its meaning for everyday life. Prior works indicate that our human condition is a tension between connection with others and a profound need for solitude; for engagement and disengagement. Three overlapping areas in this course include restorative solitude, contemplative practices, and voluntary simplicity. Readings, lectures, and student research covers such topics as childhood preferences for time alone, the relationship of solitude to technology and the creative process, its significance for spirituality, and the dark side of solitude, meditation and faith, etc. The course also includes guest presentations, films, small-group discussions, solitude exercises, contemplative practices, and independent projects.

Workshop on Distraction
Many people have advocated meditation as an anecdote to our current state of distraction. Studies on meditation have demonstrated its helpfulness in reclaiming our capacity for attention, observation, reflection, and overall quality of life. In response to discovering that my own students reported an average of 26.5 hours a week on mediated (not meditative or medicated!) communication (cell phones, email, texting, internet, etc.), I felt compelled to address the issue of distraction among faculty. The website below describes a three-hour workshop on the impact of distraction students' personal and academic lives. Your feedback to this workshop and your ideas for future workshops would be greatly appreciated.

Initially I was stunned with the overwhelming faculty response. Many professors were frustrated with students' preoccupation with technology and their distraction within the classroom. Within two hours of announcing the workshop, over 48 faculty members responded. Although I only anticipated a small group of 5-8, over 31 faculty members attended. Note takers recorded the discussions which are synthesized on this website.

This workshop covered a brief overview of research findings regarding distraction and technology (e.g. attention, focus, quality of life), future projected scenarios, and reactions to Maggie Jackson's book, Distracted: the Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, (2008). Special attention was given to curricular and classroom practices that help students focus and reflect on technology/distraction in their lives, including meditation.     WEBSITE: distractionworkshop.com

Elizabeth Bader's article, The Psychology of Meditation: Issues of Self and Identity and IDR Cycle," has been accepted for publication in Vol. 10, Issue 2 of the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal (2009-2010). An abstract of the article (PDF) is posted on the ACMHE site's publications page.

Gesa Kirsch has published "Creating Spaces for Listening, Learning, and Sustaining the Inner Lives of Students" in the Journal of Expanded Perspectives on Learning (14, Winter 2008- 2009): 56-67. A pdf of the article is posted with permission on the ACMHE website under the Publications tab.

Mindful Journaling
Mary Ragno
, Lecturer, Eastern CT State University, Willimantic, CT
This fall, Mary Ragno, Eastern CT State University, introduced meditative silence and journaling into her freshman level core course in health and wellness. As part of each weekly class, students engage a 5-minute exercise of meditative silence, followed by a 10-minute writing time in their private journals. Students receive (in class) a written reflective question that engages the particular lesson subjects of the week. While they are not required to write on the particular reflective question, Mary believes that the guided question enhances the students' awareness of self, while it enriches their comprehension of particular subject matters related to their own health and wellness. While the actual content of student's journals is private, they will be required to submit a summarizing reflection paper at the end of the term.

Mary developed this initiative after attending the "Contemplative Heart of Higher Education" Conference held last spring in Amherst. In particular, she appreciated the presentation of Northeastern University's Dorett ‘Pinky' Hope, and Jane McCool, who shared similar classroom activities that are engaged with nursing students.

Spirituality: Like the Humming of the House
By Ann T. Riley
, PhD Candidate, University of Oklahoma
Spirituality within the individual self is like the quiet humming of the house. I had a friend who, in addition to being brilliant in her field, was gifted at decorating her home. She told me once that when she moved into her new, built in 1921, home that before she made any decisions about repainting she would sit quietly in a room for weeks sometime just spending time to get to know it. She said she waited until the room spoke to her about what color was right for it. Certainly, I couldn't help but admire her for her patience too.

But really, have you ever been at home in the quiet? When there are none of the usual noises? When there is no television, radio, music, alarm clock, doorbell, telephone, dog, cat, or people with high, low, or loud voices filling the air? All these sounds constitute many of our normal busy full lives, of course; but just occasionally or even regularly, try sitting at home in silence. When I meditate at home in the quiet, I can't help but notice the humming of the house: the soft background noise of the energy that surrounds me and provides support for my existence. This reminds me of my own inner spirituality. I am aware of the quiet pulsing energy that is always present and humming quietly inside me despite the noisy busyness of my usual daily life. I am grateful for this persistent source of energy that serves to propel me forward toward the right purposes for my life so that I may live in comfort within my own skin.

Let your home speak to you, and be reminded of the ongoing source of spirituality that is ever-present and supportive within you.

Press Room

Follow the links below to recent news about members and topics relevant to contemplative higher education.

Daniel Barbezat, Professor of Economics at Amherst College and Contemplative Practice Fellow 2008 gave a radio interview on "Here and Now," public radio's daily news magazine, about "Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness," the course he taught for his fellowship year. The interview is available online.

Emmanuel Charet has just published A Balancing Act, the book about Energize, a holistic approach to acting. The book presents acting as a mind, body, spirit practice and offers invaluable tools to rebalance the emotional strain resulting from performance. The book is available from Starlight Acting Books.

A review of A Balancing Act by Barbara Sellers-Young appeared in the Association for Theater in Higher Education Journal (September 2009).

Book of This Place
The Land, Art, and Spirituality
Deborah J. Haynes

"Book of This Place is a hopeful tale of bonding--a leisurely meditation on self, nature, and art that is haunted by deaths and nourished by resilience and creativity. Haynes's stone sculptures define the narrative as she searches for her bedrock. A welcome addition to the literature of place."
--Lucy R. Lippard, author of The Lure of the Local
Deborah J. Haynes is Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is both a writer and artist and the author of three books: Bakhtin and the Visual Arts, The Vocation of the Artist, and Art Lessons: Meditations on the Creative Life.

Barry Boyce mentions ACMHE members Harold Roth, Geri DeLuca, David Forbes and Ed Sarath in his article, "The Contemplative Curriculum," in his "Mindful Society" series in the July 2009 issue of Shambala Sun.

Paul Wapner, Director of Global Environmental Politics Program at American University and Contemplative Practice Fellow 2008, wrote on "Empathetic Climate Policy" in the January/February 2009 "Memos to Obama" issue of Tikkun Magazine.

Arthur Zajonc, Professor of Physics at Amherst College and Director of the Academic Program of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, maintains a regular blog at Psychology Today's website.