Why Work at Naropa?

The culture and climate of the Naropa University workplace is like no other. Our employees come from backgrounds in every industry and from around the world, all drawn here for one purpose: to support the fulfillment of our unique institutional mission. Among us you will find great affiliation and diversity; both commitment and competence; and, most of all, friendly faces.

Imagine a workplace where people greet you warmly, laugh regularly, and genuinely want to know how you're doing. Imagine a workplace where the concept of work/life balance is treasured rather than tolerated. Imagine a feeling of coming home every day when you come to work.

This is Naropa.

We are not a utopia; we, like every business, have our share of ups and downs. We have disagreements. We have conflict. We have fiscal realities. But at Naropa, you'll never be nameless. You'll never be just a number. You'll be a human being—a growing, learning, dynamic person with a life and purpose of your own.

Work Environment

Naropa's work environment is both casual and liberal, and reflects our Boulder, Colorado location, as well as our commitment to contemplative education.

As Naropa departments start their day, you'll find employees engaged in planning sessions, helping students or other employees, problem solving, and other important work. We frequently have campus events scheduled during the lunch hour on Wednesdays, open to students, faculty, and staff. You might also find yourself in the classroom, soaking up the wisdom of our incredible students.

As the sun moves across the sky toward the mountains, the work day continues. Afternoon conversations and laughter are the norm, interspersed with the occasional birthday or anniversary celebration.

After work, you might find yourself conveniently riding the bus home to avoid traffic. Or, perhaps you'd prefer to take advantage of one of our bike-fleet bicycles to get some exercise while commuting.

Those who stay at work late can take advantage of the relative quiet that comes with the end of the day. Campus life continues, however, and you might just as easily find yourself returning to campus to take advantage of an evening or weekend program.

At Naropa, you'll find every style of dress, from jeans to suits and ties. We enjoy a community commitment to environmental sustainability, and compost and recycling bins are widely available at each campus. A hint of incense wafts through the hallways near our meditation rooms. We value the voices of all of our community members, and there are regular conversations across campus about the role of power, privilege, and difference on our campus.

Above all, we strive to make each member of our community feel comfortable and confident. A caring coworker is always just a conversation away.

Contemplative Administration

The students, faculty, staff, and trustees of Naropa are all engaged in an ongoing personal and collective journey that involves becoming more aware of ourselves and the world around us—or, more simply, "waking up." This process of waking up is supported by the discipline of contemplation, or the deliberate effort to examine ourselves and our actions, with the intention of becoming more conscious of who we are and how this self-knowledge informs and influences our actions. While students and faculty at Naropa University aspire to discover and practice the art of contemplative education, the Naropa staff is engaged in a closely linked exploration of contemplative administration.

The conscious process of paying attention to what we are doing in the workplace and how we are doing it is the path of contemplative administration. It is not something that just happens because we are employed at Naropa. It is developed, shared, and appreciated through our day-to-day work and cooperation. It is the responsibility of both the institution and the individual. It is the result of our personal and cumulative awareness.

The path of contemplative administration begins with looking inward. It is about understanding who we are, individually and as an organization, and how we interact with others to achieve the results we desire. Taking responsibility for our actions and thoughts, taking care of ourselves and one another, communicating skillfully, being resourceful and generous, and being open to possibilities brings us into the center of contemplative administration.

Most of our work together as staff and faculty involves making and fulfilling commitments to each other and to the students we serve. The work of the university could be described as a network of those commitments. Since we collectively carry the responsibility for the administration of the university, we are naturally called on to help and support each other. This includes holding ourselves and each other accountable both for what we do and for how we work together. This accountability directly affects our relationships, and therefore affects the success of our endeavors and the quality of our work environment.

The qualities of our community arise out of this process. What we invest in this effort directly impacts the kind of community and work experiences that emerge. The challenge we face is how to do this in a non-aggressive way, so that we get things done while building and maintaining relationships.

Understanding how to pay attention to both relationships and tasks is an essential aspect of contemplative administration. If we get things done, but destroy relationships and burn out as individuals, then we will not be able to sustain our organization. However, if we focus too closely on perfecting the process, we risk losing sight of our goals. Contemplative administration strives to create a dynamic balance between these two equally important values.

Meditation Instruction

Due to Naropa's commitment to contemplative education in all aspects of life, meditation instruction is offered to any employee who requests it. Getting to know oneself and one's world through meditation practice or other contemplative disciplines is viewed with great importance at the university. There is no charge for this instruction.

The type of meditation usually taught is called shamatha ("calm abiding"), a silent sitting practice that can develop mindfulness and awareness. These qualities can be relevant to an individual's life regardless of religious orientation.

Working with the contemplative practices coordinator, employees can also access other forms of contemplative discipline, including aikido, t'ai-chi ch'uan, bugaku (Japanese court dancing), calligraphy, hatha yoga, ikebana (Japenese flower arranging), kyudo (Japanese archery), tea ceremony, and much more.

Practice Day

It is a Naropa University tradition each fall and spring to suspend classes and business to engage in contemplative practice through the observation of Community Practice Day. On this day, campus offices are closed to the public. No regular classes are held. Many community activities are scheduled, such as a group morning sitting meditation and talk, classes in various contemplative disciplines, and afternoon panels and presentations.

Even if one does not have a contemplative practice, when we stop our normal routine and create a "gap" in our schedule, space occurs that can allow us to be more present, and to appreciate the subtleties of our lives and our surroundings.

Community Practice Day is a chance for the entire university community to take the opportunity to relate with each other on a different basis than our day-to-day studies or business affairs. All employees are encouraged to engage in non-routine activities, on or off campus, of a contemplative nature to constitute a wakeful pause in our regular routine or habitual patterns.

Thus, one might consider Community Practice Day a daylong community Sabbath, as that term is originally understood. It is one of the truly unique benefits of the Naropa workplace.

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