NCAI-S Painting Marathon participant painting

Sparking Creativity

"If you bring the fullness of your attention to the most ordinary gesture, it becomes extraordinary. There are no mistakes. I work from a nonbiased, nonjudgmental perspective." —Barbara Dilley, Discovering Movement in the Moment

Self-awareness unleashes creativity. Contemplative practice, one of the three primary learning aspects of contemplative education, cultivates self-awareness by teaching you to focus on the present moment and to learn to slow down the ever-cycling thoughts that dominate your mind and that drown out your true voice. Learning to unravel those cycles is at the root of wisdom and creative expression.

Naropa's degree programs focus on topics like social justice, psychology, counseling, education, sustainability, religious studies and chaplaincy, as well as the fine and performing arts. The arts are integral to a full manifestation of a university built upon a model of contemplative education. Whether music, theater, dance, visual arts, poetry, or prose, the arts represent a unique exploration of the nature of self and community, and they communicate experience and understanding in ways that fully engage the body, mind, and creative imagination. Making authentic art requires self-awareness.

Art itself, in any form, can also convey core elements of the human spirit, leaving the viewer or reader with the sense of connection or insight that contemplative practice can bring. Art is a way of sharing wisdom and the benefits of mindfulness and of building capacity for self-awareness in others.

Regardless of your academic focus, you are encouraged to engage in artistic practice, whether the work is original or traditional, as a critical part of the contemplative education journey. At Naropa, we believe that self-aware individuals contribute richly to society, so the arts represent a key part of our mission.

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