The Garrison Institute Blog is the source for up-to-date reports on the diverse activities and concerns of the Garrison Institute. Here we report on our program initiatives - Contemplative Teaching and Learning, Transforming Trauma, Climate, Mind and Behavior, and our Retreats program - as well as on our wider circle of allies and interests.
An exhibition of artworks by Greg Dunn is currently on display in the Garrison Institute ambulatory. Dunn, a neuroscience PhD (Penn), is a great fan of minimalist scroll and screen painting from the Edo period in Japan. His realization that the elegant forms of neurons (the cells that comprise your brain) can be painted expressively in the Asian sumi-e style has led him into an exploration of the fusion of art and science through designs in gold leaf. Click here to get a sense of his work. Visitors are welcome to drop in any weekday, 9-5. The show will be up until August 31, 2013.
The Garrison Institute was founded in 2003, and we are enjoying our tenth anniversary year with special events, a commemorative video, and a journal, Essays from the Garrison Institute: 10 Years of Impact, 2003-2013 (PDF, 7.5 MB). In April, we held our 10th Anniversary Gala at The Pierre hotel in Manhattan. Our keynote speakers were our board members Paul Hawken, Dan Siegel, and Sharon Salzberg -- leading lights in their fields, each of whom spoke about the ways in which the Garrison Institute is galvanizing a broad-based movement for contemplative-based social change in pursuit of our mission to help build a more compassionate, resilient future. See what each of them has to say.
Later this year we'll hold a special 10th anniversary benefit concert organized by Philip Glass, October 24 at Town Hall in Manhattan. Watch our website for forthcoming details about the concert. And learn more about our 10th anniversary...
On Thursday, April 18, 7-10pm, join us for a talk and a convivial dinner prepared by Fresh Company. Our menu will highlight Hudson Valley ingredients and some from the city itself, with hors d'oeuvres, dinner, beer and wine served in the Garrison Institute dining room. Our menu is filled with classic NYC dishes, made with ingredients from the city, and the Hudson Valley.
Jonathan F.P. Rose will talk about green urbanism, a movement that is making for healthier cities. He will feature a surprising hot spot of green resilience: the South Bronx.
With a menu featuring reubens, spicy falafel, local chicken, market salad with early spring herbs, NYC honey-cocoa cake, Bronx Brewery beer, Paumanok Vineyards wine, and a whole lot more, this will be a feasting delight in celebration of Earth Day! See the full menu and make reservations here.
Videos from our symposium The Art and Science of Contemplative Teaching and Learning: Exploring Ways of Knowing, held last November, are now available. Dr. Dan Siegel, Linda Lantieri, Tobin Hart, Mark Greenberg and Laura Rendon expound on subjects such as Reflection, Relationships and Resilience at the Heart of Internal Education; Growing the Integrative Mind; and Cultivating Different Ways of Knowing. Mark Wilding leads a breath awareness practice. The symposium brought together teachers, principals, researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, health professionals, non-profit organizations and others; the subjects covered in these videos will be of interest to anyone who cares about education. Check out the videos.
Tricycle Magazine’s current issue features an illuminating look at the Buddhist Contemplative Care Symposium held at the Garrison Institute in November, 2012. Here’s an excerpt from So the Darkness Shall Be the Light: Contemplative Care Comes of Age at a Symposium in Garrison, New York, by Joe Loizzo: "Once the gong of the opening meditation had sounded in the stained glass-illuminated hall, the day unfolded like a cross between a spiritual retreat and an information-packed clinical conference. Most of the participants were professionals—doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains—working in the emerging fields of palliative care and hospice care. Their faces seemed to drink in the air of mindfulness and compassion. The questions they asked after the meditations, presentations, and panels helped explain why…"
A series of eight paintings recently created by Robert Spellman, featuring enigmatic beetles on glowing, textured surfaces, is on exhibit now in the Garrison Institute’s ambulatory. Visitors are welcome weekdays, 9-5. Spellman says of these works:
“I did the present series at the invitation of the Garrison Institute. It was an opportunity to produce a set of paintings on a theme, to be exhibited in an environment where people on retreat could see them with an ordinary frame of mind, not burdened by the complication of looking at ‘art.’ Paintings have a tough life these days. It takes time to see a painting; it can take hours, days or even years to really see a painting. This is not something many people have time for. I think the trick is to place paintings where people see them regularly and often, perhaps without even realizing it; this can provide a way of seeing without effort or seeing without a conceptual framework. Sometimes we don’t notice how much presence a painting can have until it is removed from a space it has occupied for time; the absence can be as striking as the gap left when a tree is cut down.”
Robert Spellman is an artist and teacher currently living in Boulder, Colorado. He is on the faculty of Naropa University’s Visual Arts, Religious Studies, and Graduate Performance Studies, teaching studio classes and meditation and the vast overlap between the two. See more of his work at Art and Soul Gallery in Boulder or visit his web site www.robertspellman.com.
The Garrison Institute’s Contemplative Teaching and Learning Initiative has its own Facebook page. If you’d like to know more about the growing role of contemplative practice in the lives of K-12 educators and in classrooms, and keep up with news from this field, you should like this page!
The growth of contemplative education can help keep teachers teaching, keep students learning and help schools succeed. The Contemplative Teaching and Learning (CTL) Initiative supports the field’s growth and evolution by introducing evidence-based contemplative methods to educators. The Facebook page provides a steady flow of links to new ideas, articles, conferences, webcasts, and news on our work.
Many on the Garrison Institute staff are dedicated to providing an authentic and fulfilling experience for the thousands of people who come here for retreat. And behind the scenes, all of us are kept very busy in our work. So our annual staff retreat is a very welcome occasion, when we can be together “in retreat mode,” take some breaths, learn a little, and reflect. Recently, Roshi Enkyo O’Hara led us in a retreat on “Zen and Gratitude,” and we are indeed grateful for her insightful and congenial teaching, and for the opportunity to experience the peace and beauty of the Garrison Institute “from the other side.”
We recommend you take time to watch some of the videos from our recent symposium on contemplative palliative and end-of-life care, Buddhist Contemplative Care, presented in partnership with the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. Neuroscience research has demonstrated the effectiveness of meditation and mindfulness-based techniques in both patient healing and caregiver self-care, and this symposium was designed to give practitioners tools and insights to provide the most effective palliative and end-of-life care possible. See Dr. Diane Meier on Palliative Care: Deploying Mindfulness to Transform the Care of Serious Illness; Dr. Michael Kearney on Learning to Breathe Underwater: Towards a Self-Awareness Based Model of Self Care; BJ Miller on Vanishing Point: The Aesthetic Potential of Palliative Care; An Evening with New York State Poet Laureate Marie Howe; Koshin Paley Ellison and Robert Chodo Campbell on The Great Matter of Life and Death: Intimacy at the Bedside and with the Team; and more! All in all, a great resource for this very important and intimate field.
The New York Times reports from our recent Buddhist Contemplative Care Symposium: in the Personal Health blog, Jane Brody describes how doctors who care for the terminally ill may find themselves sharing their patients' pain and facing burnout from the stresses of their jobs – and what can be done about it. Dr. Diane E. Meier, keynote speaker at the symposium, tells Brody a story of an oncologist she knows who thought the next step for a patient terminally ill with advanced cancer “might be to deliver chemotherapy directly to her brain. It was a risky treatment that he knew would not, could not, help her…. When [Meier] asked what he thought the futile therapy would accomplish, the oncologist replied, ‘I don’t want Judy to think I’m abandoning her.’ [The] question prompted Judy’s doctor to realize that what his patient needed most at the end of her life was not more chemotherapy, but for him to sit down with her, to promise to do his best to keep her comfortable and to be there for the rest of her days….” Read more...
“The arts are an integral part of many contemplative traditions,” says Pamela Seigle, Executive Director of Courage and Renewal Northeast and Garrison Institute Education Leadership Council member. “For children, engaging in singing, drawing and moving are natural times of mindfulness and attention. The arts allow us to feel, express and understand emotions that sometimes can't be named. They also allow us to connect to ourselves and to each other, and to build community.” A recent update from our Contemplative Teaching and Learning Initiative features more of her commentary on the internal dynamics of the artful experience, as well as a video of Seigle sharing a singing practice with educators at our 2011 Education Symposium, in which participants listen to their own voices and then to the voices of others, choosing whether to sing in unison, harmony or dissonance. In this practice, says Seigle, “Singing becomes a powerful metaphor for voice.”
For anyone who’s in our area and looking for contemplative activities short of retreats, we’d like to draw your attention to the ongoing opportunities at the Garrison Institute for weekly sitting meditation and tai chi, all open to the public.
A free sitting meditation session is held on most Wednesday mornings from 7:45-8:30 am in a small meditation room, led by Institute staff and featuring some instruction and reflections on practice by the meditation leader as well as a time for silent sitting meditation. The meditation practiced is from the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness, concentration, and "calm abiding." It is most appropriate for people with some meditation experience as basic orientation and instruction is not included, but beginners are welcome too.
We also host a free Tuesday evening meditation at 6:30-8:00pm based on Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's Joy of Living curriculum and coordinated by Garrison Institute staffer Max Maksimik. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's approach to meditation focuses on working with the challenges of day-to-day life to create a peaceful mind and open heart. These weekly meditation groups are free and open to all, whether new to meditation or a seasoned practitioner, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
Additionally, Tai Chi classes with instructor Teresa Peppard are ongoing on Thursday mornings at 9am. The cost is $10 per class. Learn more about the Tai Chi classes here.
Finally, there is our seven-circuit spiral labyrinth within the walled garden, open to all from dawn to dusk and suitable for walking contemplation any time.
Mindful, a new magazine published by leaders in the mindfulness movement across North America, through the Foundation for a Mindful Society, is “dedicated to helping you live a more satisfying life through the practice of mindfulness,” a likeminded goal that we share. Mindful has extended this special offer to the Garrison Institute community:
Subscribe ($19.95 for a year of the magazine) and Mindful will donate $10 to the Garrison Institute. We’ll use the money to fund scholarships so those who need financial aid can attend our retreats and programs. Here’s the link.
(You’ll need to select the Garrison Institute from the short list of Mindful partners for the donation to come to us.)
What wisdom are we developing over our lifetimes? What practices are we developing to help us to be reflective and discerning about our lives - at every step on our journey? These are the questions that Garrison Institute board member Rabbi Rachel Cowan will address when she leads an upcoming interactive workshop and discussion about the later stages of life and how they illuminate every stage of life.
Growing Older: A Spiritual Practice for People of All Ages will be held at Beacon Hebrew Alliance in Beacon, New York, November 15th, 7:30 - 9:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public, but you are asked to let them know if you are planning on coming. Learn more and sign up here.
This post is copied from the Contemplative Teaching and Learning blog - we felt it deserved to be shared widely...
The topics we’ll be exploring during November's Contemplative Teaching and Learning Symposium were framed in the keynote of last year’s symposium given by Mark Greenberg, Chair of the Contemplative Teaching and Learning Leadership Council. Greenberg spoke about the need for more exploration of the use of interpersonal contemplative practices in educational contexts.
According to Greenberg, intrapersonal practices such as yoga and meditation are receiving considerable academic attention, with research indicating their potential benefits in symptom reduction, self-reports of mindfulness and changes to brain activity.
But interpersonal practices, that is practices based on people engaging with one another, have received far less academic attention. Interpersonal practices include but are not limited to, deep listening, story-telling, contemplative dialogue and discourse, council procedure and groups, empathy training, certain martial arts, certain forms of service learning, contemplative art and contemplative music, contemplating the natural world and our awareness during daily activities.
Greenberg argued that we need to study both types of practices, and their potential effects on interpersonal outcomes such as social relations, self-awareness and self-regulation in everyday interactions and compassion for self and for others.
You can watch the entire talk titled "Nurturing Mindfulness In Families, Schools and Youth: Advancing the Science and Practice of Awareness and Caring" as well as other talks from last year’s Symposium by clicking here.
As part of Community Free Day at Dia:Beacon on Saturday, October 13, Dia Art Foundation and the Garrison Institute will present a joint program. Taking its title from sculptor Richard Serra, who said that “The art of seeing takes an effort,” the program invites participants to explore different ways of connecting with art on view at Dia:Beacon while considering spiritual themes in art and contemplative aspects of art appreciation.
Roger Lipsey, PhD, a member of the local advisory board of the Garrison Institute, will lead the program and give a talk that explores the spiritual aspects of art in religious art in the past and in contemporary art today, only some of which acknowledges a spiritual dimension. Books by Lipsey include a three-volume edition (1977) of the life and writings of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, the Anglo-Indian art curator who explored the spiritual in art and the way of the connoisseur, The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art (1988) and the prize-winning Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton (2006). “Experiencing art can be a pleasurable, revelatory effort of eye and mind, heart and body,” Lipsey says. “Like artists wholly engaged in creating, viewers have the opportunity to be wholly engaged in viewing works of art. There is an art of seeing.” After his talk, Lipsey will lead participants in viewing works in the Dia collection by Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin and Richard Serra.
The program starts at 11:30 am and runs approximately 1.5 hours. Space is limited; reservations recommended. Learn more here.
At Dia:Beacon’s Community Free Day, visitors can participate in a full day of special workshops, gallery talks, and tours, free with the price of admission. Residents of Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties receive free admission (with proper identification).
Contemplative palliative and end-of-life care is the focus of an groundbreaking symposium that Garrison Institute is presenting in partnership with the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care in November. The Buddhist Contemplative Care Symposium, November 8-11, 2012, brings leading experts in palliative, hospice and contemplative care together to explore how contemplative care techniques can improve healing and reduce suffering. It will provide unique insights into an important, rapidly growing field.
Here are some of the subjects that will be addressed by distinguished experts at the symposium:
Dr. Anthony Back, Strengthening Your Clinical Practice: Delve deeper into contemplative care practices by learning which techniques can provide a more complete clinical experience for your patients. In this session, we will bring to life the latest revelations in neuroscience research on contemplation and how they can be best operationalized into one's clinical practice.
Dr. Diane Meier, Palliative Care: Deploying Mindfulness to Transform the Care of Serious Illness: Examine how and why palliative care integrates key principles of listening and presence into care; the reasons for its rapid growth in the US over the last 10 years; and what next steps are needed to assure that all persons with serious illness and their families have reliable access to high quality palliative care teams.
Dr. BJ Miller, Vanishing Point: The Aesthetic Potential of Palliative Care: Whatever happens to us upon death, at the very least we are bidding goodbye to our material and sensory lives. This represents a universal denominator, and beauty remains a common salve. Given this, why does sensory fulfillment receive so little attention from the healthcare community? Those things which confer meaning and profound joy in our daily lives are lacking right when they would prove most powerful. The purpose of this lecture is to explore the therapeutic value of the aesthetic domain.
Scholarship are available for medical students and fellows, as are CME/CEUs for medical doctors, nurses and social workers. To register or find out more, please visit the symposium pages.
Creativity, flexibility, self-control… What qualities do people need in order to succeed, and how might children best gain these abilities in the classroom? We’d like to draw your attention to a very informative presentation video we recorded recently, in which Dr. Adele Diamond explores the science underlying the emerging fields of Contemplative Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). In her presentation to a gathering of Garrison Institute supporters in New York City, entitled “Child Development and the Brain: Insights to Help Every Child Thrive,” she reviews scientific findings that point to the efficacy of these approaches. A member of Garrison Institute’s Education Leadership Council and a pioneer in the field of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Dr. Diamond is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.
A host of interactive workshops inviting participants to explore approaches to enriching learning in K-12 settings by supporting the development of attention, insight, emotional self-regulation and empathy are on offer at The Art and Science of Contemplative Teaching and Learning: Exploring Ways of Knowing. This wide-ranging symposium will be held November 16-18, presented by the Garrison Institute Contemplative Teaching and Learning Initiative. With offerings like Contemplation and Poetry (Lindamichelle Baron), Sharing Ways to Bring Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices to Adolescents (Patricia Broderick), Once Upon a Time: Using Myth as a Tool for Engagement (Andre Kwesi McCray and G. Kwame Scruggs), Dances of Universal Peace (Ann Mary Roberts), Cultivating the Inner Lives of Students and Teachers in K-8 Schools (Linda Lantieri and Madhavi Nambiar), and Developing the Habits of Mind and Heart: A Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Vision of Education (Laura I. Rendón), we are throwing open the door for educators, administrators, researchers and others with an interest in contemplative teaching and learning to experience the vibrant diversity in the emerging field of contemplative teaching and learning. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. gives the keynote address, Time-In: Reflection, Relationships and Resilience at the Heart of Internal Education.
An early registration discount is available through September 17th. Need-based scholarships covering half the program fee are available. Click here for more information, CEUs, or to register.
We are delighted to welcome aboard our new Executive Director, Robyn Brentano, former director of The Tibet Fund, beginning September 4. Quoting our Board Chair Diana Rose: “We feel very lucky and optimistic about having Robyn at the helm, steering us into our second decade of evolution. She brings to the Institute a wide range of mission-critical skills and experience leading non-profits and advancing key social change fields. Robyn’s passion for and commitment to this work dovetails with our needs now as our retreats and initiatives expand.” You can read a bio of Robyn here.
We’d also like to express our thanks to our outgoing interim executive director Beth Schecter, an expert in non-profit organizational transition who ably led the Institute and prepared it for new leadership over the last nine months.