Summer Sessions

Contemplative Practices for Collective Healing and Liberation

The 17th Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Practices in Education

Monday, August 2nd - Thursday, August 5th, 2021
Broadcast Live via Zoom

Regular registration: $350
With an Access Grant: $175 (apply here)
Graduate & Undergraduate Students: $75
A $50 ACMHE member discount applies to all rates (join ACMHE here)

Registration closes at 5pm EDT on Friday, July 23rd. Contact Maya Elinevsky with any questions.

The 2021 Summer Session will focus on how educators can move forward from the events that have shaped our lives this past year. By integrating contemplative practices with a social justice lens, we will explore ways to cultivate joy and happiness in our teaching, research, and civic engagement towards collective well-being and liberatory change.

The Summer Session offers a unique combination of course development, community building, experiential learning and time for practice. Past attendees have referred to it as their “yearly tune up,” a chance for personal reflection, self-care, and pedagogical development. We encourage newcomers to contemplative pedagogy and inquiry to attend, as the Summer Session seeks to offer participants a foundation for understanding, experiencing, and developing contemplative approaches. 

Through plenary presentations, small group work, and time for practice and self-reflection, participants will reflect on their identities, their complex meanings, and their connections to their roles as educators within education and in our communities. 

The Summer Session is facilitated by a multidisciplinary team of educators with extensive experience across many aspects of higher education. Together they will provide you with guidance as you explore how to effectively and responsibly integrate contemplative practices into your educational environments.

Some of the questions that we bring to this year’s summer session include, but are not limited to:

  • How do we acknowledge each other’s histories and still engage in social justice practices with compassion?
  • Is it possible for higher education, community, and social justice practices to be in harmony with each other for the good of all?
  • How do we honor different types of literacies and approaches to teaching and learning?
  • What types of activism can support an intergenerational community?
  • How can contemplative practices be one of many paths that can transform higher education?

Attendees will engage in a range of guided practices, including mindful movement, art-making, and dialogue. These are intended to prepare participants for the deep inquiry and meaningful self-exploration we hope to foster during our time together. 

The 17th Summer Session on Contemplative Practices in Education is primarily designed for those in higher education (faculty, staff, administrators, graduate students, and researchers), but attendance is open to all who are seeking to:

  • develop contemplative methods to inform their work within and beyond “classroom” settings;
  • examine their own unique identities and experiences to help create inclusive, responsive, inquiry-based learning environments;
  • deepen their personal practice; 
  • build friendships within a diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholar-practitioners.

Although online, we still intend to offer opportunities for:

  • personal and professional growth and development through contemplative practice, stimulating  discussions, and reflection;
  • contemplative practice to navigate through the complexities, uncertainties and possible discomforts of new learning experiences; 
  • reconnection with old friends and creation of  new friendships with colleagues from diverse world-views and across many disciplines and types of institutions;
  •  brave spaces to explore the connections between contemplative practice and social justice, and how that informs effective teaching and learning. 
  • a certificate of completion upon request.

It does NOT offer:

  • easy answers and step-by-step solutions; there is no single “how-to” that can be applied to this work.


Contact Maya Elinevsky at or leave us voicemail at 413-842-6463

Meet the Summer Session Facilitators


Maria E. Hamilton Abegunde, Ph.D., is a Memory Keeper, poet, ancestral priest in the Yoruba Orisa tradition, healing facilitator, and doula. Her research and creative works are grounded in contemplative and African-based ritual practices, and respectfully approach the Earth and human bodies as sites of memory, and always with the understanding that memory never dies, is subversive, and can be recovered to transform transgenerational trauma and pain into peace and power. In 2016, she joined faculty from the IU School of Education at the University of Juba, South Sudan, to help create a two-year Master’s program in Teaching Emergencies. Through Spirit & Place (IUPUI), she is a Civic Reflections trainer, a Powerful Conversations on Race facilitator, and will lead their Racial Trauma and Healing series. Her most recent works address anti-Black racism and violence, genocide, sexual violence, and healing, and can be found in If My Body Could TalkNorth Meridian Review, the Massachusetts Review, Tupelo Quarterly, FIRE!!!, Keeper of My Mothers’ Dreams, and in the book Ashe: Ritual Poetics in African Diasporic Expressivity. 

She is the founding director of The Graduate Mentoring Center (Bloomington), a faculty fellow for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for which she designed the anti-Black racism training module, and a faculty member in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies. Dr. Abegunde is a Cave Canem, Sacatar, Ragdale, and NEH fellow.

Yuria Celidwen

Yuria Celidwen, Ph.D. is of Indigenous Nahua and Maya descent from the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. As a scholar, she works on the intersection of Indigenous studies, cultural psychology, and contemplative science. Her interests are the interdisciplinary approaches to the experience of self-transcendence, its embodiment in contemplative practice, and how it enhances prosocial behavior (ethics and compassion) across contemplative and Indigenous traditions. She developed the thesis of the “Ethics of Belonging,” an earth-based ecological experience that engenders and ethos of conscious social responsibility for self, community, and environment. Within this work, she examines how self-identity relates to cultural narratives, and how reconstructing them can transform the social and racial injustices of our times. She brings the voices of Indigenous peoples of the world as equal holders of sophisticated systems of contemplative insight, and she emphasizes the reclamation, revitalization, and transmission of Indigenous wisdom, the advancement of Indigenous rights and the rights of the Earth for social and environmental justice. Learn more about Dr. Celidwen at

Lisa-Marie Napoli

Lisa-Marie Napoli, Ph.D., is director of the Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) Program and Senior Lecturer at Indiana University, Bloomington. Most of her work focuses on conflict management, deliberative democracy, and civic action. She is founder of Voices for Democracy and Civility, a project that trains students as facilitators to support community members and leaders to reflect, deliberate, and act on public issues, and founding chair of the Big Ten Voting Challenge at IU Bloomington, part of a national competition encouraging awareness and action of voter registration, non-partisan voter education, and voter turnout.

Over the past decade, the emphasis in her teaching, research, and service focuses on leadership, college students and politics, democracy, restorative justice, community health, community justice, public voice, and other social and environmental issues that can be examined at the intersection of government and community. In all her work, there is an underlying goal of collaboration to make equitable positive change for healing.

Lisa-Marie has a lifelong passion to bridge conflicting perspectives for greater understanding. With nearly 30 years of experience as a group facilitator, interpersonal mediator, conflict coach, and workshop trainer, she draws from her spiritual practices as a foundation. Lisa-Marie is a bridge-builder, at heart, and is active in the Bloomington community as a public engagement consultant, mediator, and organizer. She is currently involved in community projects to support community health and to deal with civil unrest to bridge divides.

David Robinson-Morris

David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. is a scholar, author, philosopher, social justice and human rights advocate-activist, educator, philanthropist, community organizer, DEI practitioner, and administrator. Dr. Robinson-Morris is the Founder and Chief Reimaginelutionary at The REImaginelution, LLC, a strategic consulting firm working at the intersections of imagination, policy, practice, and prophetic hope to radically reimagine diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) toward racial justice and systemic transformation by engendering freedom of the human spirit; and catalyzing the power of the imagination to reweave organizations, systems, and the world for collective healing and liberation. David believes so much of the work of oppression and oppressive systems is about policing imagination; shutting down any thought of what could or must exist to become (more) free. 

Most recently, Dr. Robinson-Morris served as the Regional Director of Diversity and Inclusion of the Bayou Region for Ochsner Health. He is the Founding Director of The Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit, former Assistant Professor in the Division of Education and Counseling and served as Assistant Vice President of Development at Xavier University of Louisiana.

David holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Research with a dual concentration in Higher Education Administration and Curriculum Theory, and an Education Specialist (Ed. S.) Certificate in Educational Leadership with a focus on applied research, measurement, and evaluation both from Louisiana State University (LSU). He is a 2006 alumnus of Loyola University New Orleans and a 2011 graduate of the University of New Orleans. David is the author of a research monograph titled, Ubuntu and Buddhism in Higher Education: An Ontological (Re)Thinking published by Routledge in 2019.

Dr. Robinson-Morris’ career as an upper-level administrator is grounded in his work as a social justice and human rights advocate and academic, whose engagements across several platforms including higher education institutions, government, human rights organizations, corporations, non-profit, religious, and philanthropic organizations seeks to impact policy, change practice, and uplift the human spirit wherever it is diminished. 

Influenced by his understanding of Ubuntu—a South African philosophical notion of communalism and shared humanity—Dr. Robinson-Morris’ work promotes deep dialogical engagement as an approach to achieving racial, gender, and health equity when communities come to understand that our humanity is shared and is a quality we owe another. True equity and systemic transformation, in our communities and in our institutions, can only be realized when we come to understand difference as generative and the collective mandates systems to align policy and practice toward inclusion, which leads to a sense of belonging and mattering for every individual. His understanding of Ubuntu coupled with that of Eastern (Buddhist) philosophy informs his ongoing understanding of our shared, collective humanity.

David is actively engaged in several civic, educational, and human rights organizations throughout the city, state, and region. Dr. Robinson-Morris is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and is a native of Galveston, Texas. 

Kai Cheng Thom

Kai Cheng Thom is  writer, performer, former clinical social worker, somatic coach and conflict resolution practitioner based in Toronto/tkaronto.  She is the author of five award-winning books in multiple genres, as well as the advice column Ask Kai: Advice for the Apocalypse.  A noted educator in the areas of mental health, sexuality, and trauma, she is the developer of the Loving Justice framework, a spiritual and somatic lens on Transformative Justice.

Summer Session Structure & Agenda

The summer session will consist of all live events (no pre-recorded content), including live plenaries with discussion and Q&A sessions, and live afternoon workshops for smaller group work with facilitators. (Please note that we are based in the EDT / UTC -4 time zone.)

A contemplative practice will be offered each morning. There will be additional opportunities for participants to deepen their connection with one another.

We understand that home and personal responsibilities may arise throughout the week, and may make it challenging to be present for the entire session. We will record all plenary talks and morning practices so that you can re-watch these sessions. We will also integrate breaks throughout the day so that you can tend to your needs.

Our goal is to create a shared experience, provide a sense of connection, and offer resources to help each of us sustain ourselves and our communities.

Plenary Presentation Descriptions

Seeds of Emergence: Indigenous Contemplative Stories and the Making of an Earth-based Identity 

with Dr. Yuria Celidwen

Monday, August 2nd

Origin stories are the core means to the construction of cultural identity. They are the foundation of belief systems, behavioral traits, and interaction patterns. We learn through stories. They teach us how to find our place in a group, develop a sense of responsibility, and pursue a sense of purpose. Our exceptional capacity of identity-making through stories empowers our communities and us by engendering a sense of responsibility, adaptability, balance, and belonging. In other words, stories give us a home. The great diversity of Indigenous Peoples has enhanced a relational capacity that enhances a shared identity through reverence to the Earth, to whom many of us call Our Mother. Our circle of care is one of belonging in which we count as relatives all two-legged, four-legged, finned, winged, myceliated, rooted, flowing, and still, as well as waking, dream, and cosmic realms. The contemplative experience that recognizes life experience based on All-Our-Relations creates an ethical and reliable holistic system that we express as metaphors of care. Join me in this plenary session to celebrate our stories of emergence and connection based on the millenary Indigenous science of storytelling. We explore how to weave this science into an intergenerational compassion practice. At the same time, we courageously reckon with the conditioned narratives of separation that feed our times’ structural and systemic injustices and learn how to compost them. Coming together in contemplative ceremony, we nourish a new identity of ecological care that I call an earth-based Ethics of Belonging

Contemplate to Deliberate

with Lisa-Marie Napoli 

Tuesday, August 3rd

In a time of political intolerance and civic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to keep a calm mind. But how do we do that while still staying active and engaged in issues that matter to us, that we are passionate about? It’s been said that in urgent times, we need to slow down. On the surface, this seems counterintuitive. Yet, more than ever, many of us are called to find a place of stillness to shine a light on moments-in-time, to be witnesses and advocates, to honestly assess situations in public life, to consider various perspectives, to share public voice, and to be effective in civic engagement. How can we best prepare inwardly to do the challenging and ongoing work of social justice that is externally needed more than ever?  

In considering the elements of democratic deliberation, we can imagine opportunities for finding new ways to be in relationship with oneself and with larger communities. How is deliberation a contemplative practice? We can consider this in a variety of ways. This session will explore these possibilities and consider that to deliberate about a public issue, one must contemplate deeply about what is important, why something is valuable and held dear, what is important from other perspectives, and that there are trade-offs along the way in moving toward action. Considering these aspects of deliberation, this session will explore how we can build relationships, find voice, uncover shared values, and move toward individual and collective contemplative action. 

Every Day Free: The Practice of Liberation in Our Daily Lives

with David W. Robinson-Morris 

Wednesday, August 4th

“All systems have proven to be inadequate. I am now assuming that there are no limits and even if there are, I can give no guarantees that they will contain my spirit and its search for a way to modify the spaces and predicaments in which I find myself.”  — Melvin Edwards

Freedom is a practice that must be re-won every minute, every hour, and every day of our lives. Indeed, liberation is a constant struggle and an everyday practice. As Toni Morrison so eloquently wrote, in Beloved, “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”  How might we begin the practice of embodying liberation in our daily lives? Perhaps, the collective ‘We’ must begin to interrogate how we might unlearn, deconstruct, or reimagine systems that have proven inadequate to contain the immanence of the human spirit or fail to shed adequate light on its shadows. 

As educators, scholars, and higher education practitioners, this pondering or reimagining can bring to the fore feelings of joy and fear given we find our livelihoods within a deeply imperfect system. Yet, what we know is that all systems have proven to be inadequate for collective healing and liberation. Placing in service the contemplative practices of compassionate truth-telling and radical self-reflection, this plenary session will explore how we can learn to live with integrity and embody the courage to be free in our daily lives. We will utilize the power of our imaginations to spark a reimaginelution—an imaginative (r)evolution—to come to understand that we are limitless and that systems cannot contain the immensity of the human spirit, which is always in pursuit of justice and liberatory transformation. We aim, through practice,  to become every day free—consciously.

Choosing Justice, Choosing Love: Contemplative Practice for Conflict & Social Change

with Kai Cheng Thom

Thursday, August 5th

“Justice is what love looks like in public” - Cornel West

The pursuit of a better world necessitates conflict – struggle between individuals, social classes, communities, and political groups. In this time of heightened political tension and global upheaval, the need for contemplative and embodied approaches to working with conflict has become ever more urgent.  What does it mean to hold one another accountable for harm?  How can we achieve justice without relying on colonial systems of punishment and imprisonment?  Can we embrace conflict as an invitation to transform and an opportunity to grow?  This session will provide participants with an exploration of spiritual and somatic approaches to conflict resolution.  Drawing on the work of queer Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour thinkers in the Transformative Justice movement, as well as Applied Mindfulness and trauma psychology, we will explore frameworks and tools for relationship rupture and repair, accountability, and forgiveness and their relationship to social change. 

Morning Contemplative Practices

Start the day with an optional morning practice session from 9-9:45 am EDT on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Both practices will be offered each day.


Qigong Practice with JuPong Lin

The mandarin character, 氣 (qi) means energy, vitality or life. 功 (gong) means work or cultivating. Qigong is a branch of Chinese medicine that has been developed and practiced for 2,500 years. Qigong is a method of self-care based on working with the energy systems of the body. JuPong Lin, a student of Qigong for 20 years, will offer this practice that promotes health and wellbeing, clarity of mind, and inner peace.

Art and Contemplation… with Doreen Maller

In contemplation, we deepen and broaden our awareness and in sharing, deepen intimacy and connection.  The integration of art and contemplation provides an opportunity to engage in other ways of knowing and seeking. Beyond words, marks are made that open the door to rich storytelling and connection. Each morning a contemplative art practice using basic materials will be offered, with time to create and time to share. Working with the themes of the week, we will look backward to our ancestral histories and into our connection to others through art making, creating together in community.

Registration Fees & Financial Aid

ACMHE Members Non-Members
Regular Rate $300 $350
with Access Grant $125 $175
Student Rate $25 $75

The regular (full) registration fee for the 2021 Summer Session is $350 (all amounts are in USD). This rate can be reduced in several ways:

  • Access Grants reduce the regular rate to $175. These are available on a first-come/first-served basis. Apply here and, if available, we will issue you a discount code to be used at registration.
  • Students (graduate & undergraduate) can register at the $75 student rate.
  • ACMHE members receive a $50 discount on all rates. When logged in as a member, the discount will be automatically applied at the final step of registration. Learn more & join ACMHE here.

Contemplative Practices for Collective Healing and Liberation

Registration closes at 5pm EDT on Friday, July 23rd.
Contact Maya Elinevsky with any questions.