Contemplative Environmental Practice

group discussion in natural setting

Event Details

  • Date:
  • Location: Lama Foundation
  • Cost: $1050.00
  • Deposit: $525

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At the heart of the workshop is the use of contemplative practices. Too often professors, teachers, community organizers, and activists put aside their personal wellbeing as they take up their commitments. For many of us, this creates a gulf between our psychological and spiritual preoccupations, on the one hand, and our jobs as teachers and activists on the other. The workshop aims to bridge this divide by using contemplative practices to explore the connections between our deepest inner experiences and our environmental efforts. Through daily meditation, art, nature walks, yoga, journal writing, and other reflective exercises, we will investigate the interface between inner ecology and our pedagogical and activist work. Furthermore, the workshop will introduce contemplative practices tailored specifically for use in the classroom and activist settings.

Much of the workshop will probe the depths of the environmental crisis with the aim of appreciating the profundity of climate change, massive extinction, freshwater scarcity, and other global environmental challenges. This will include focusing not only on the biophysical but also the moral, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of these problems. The aim is to learn how to hold the depth and heartbreak of environmental issues without falling into despair, and to focus our energies toward building a more just, ecologically sound future. Are there ways to teach and work on behalf of environmental sustainability so that our full humanness can emerge? Can we teach and be active with a sense of both outrage and awe? Can we channel our inner resources so our students and those whom we wish to mobilize discover their own power and commitment?

The workshop will delve into these questions in a setting and with an approach that allows for personal and professional renewal. In this sense, it is both a workshop and a retreat. Participants will have ample time and space to explore their own understandings, take stock of their environmental lives, and simply relax amid fellow travelers committed to personal growth and professional effectiveness.

This 6-day workshop takes place at the Lama Foundation, an ecumenical retreat center in the stunning mountains of New Mexico and will be co-facilitated by our 2019 faculty. A key dimension of contemplative environmental practice involves sustaining community. With this in mind, all participants and teachers will practice seva (selfless service) during the workshop. Seva is an opportunity to help the Lama community with its many tasks. During the week, each of us will help cook a meal, clean a space on the land, work in the garden, or otherwise participate in Lama’s day-to-day activities. Such effort not only helps Lama hold our workshop; it also provides a chance to learn and be part of Lama’s unique community. We see such seva as integral to the workshop theme.

Teachers are:

  • Paul Wapner, Professor of Global Environmental Politics, American University
  • Lena Fletcher, Professor of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Therese Jornlin, Meditation and Qi Gong Instructor and Therapist

For more information, visit