The Garrison Institute is more than a place; it’s a community. On its historic campus in Garrison, New York, it pursues evidence-based research and practical applications of contemplative approaches to social change. More than our board and staff or bricks and mortar, the Institute fundamentally consists of the people connected through us. They comprise diverse learning and professional networks and communities of practice stretching across the US and abroad. We helped found, and continue to lead, a broad-based movement of people practicing contemplative-based change, whose influence extends far beyond our walls.
People from all walks of life experience the benefits of contemplation through our retreats and programs, and bring them back into their lives, communities and workplaces. Some 35,000 participated directly since our doors opened in 2003; others discovered us via our online hubs and regional meetings or through external conferences. Caregivers and CEOs, educators and researchers, policymakers and human service providers, and other change agents are using contemplative skills and scientific insights they encountered through the Institute in their own work and professional fields, and are having a profound impact. It’s these people who best define us, a few of whom you’ll meet in this report. Meanwhile here are some other definitions that apply. The Garrison Institute is:
• A 501[c]3 nonprofit, non-sectarian organization exploring the intersection of contemplation and engaged action in the world. Our mission is to apply the transformative power of contemplation to today’s pressing social and environmental concerns, helping build a more compassionate, resilient future. We envision and work to build a future where contemplative approaches are mainstream, and applied at scale to create conditions for systemic change. Learn about our organizational growth and see a list of our funders for 2011.
• A leader in the emerging field of contemplative teaching and learning. Our Contemplative Teaching and Learning (CTL) Initiative introduces educators to evidence- based mindfulness techniques that can enhance their well-being, create healthier school environments and improve educational outcomes. Across the US, K-12 schools are implementing mindfulness-based education programs. Together with partner organizations such as Penn State, Fordham, the American Educational Research Association, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, the Mind and Life Institute and others, we help lead the advance of this exciting, impactful field. Learn more about the Initiative's 2011 accomplishments here.
• A national hub for innovative, people-centered approaches to climate change. The Institute’s Climate, Mind and Behavior (CMB) program connects insights from social and behavioral sciences to spark new thinking about sustainability and climate change solutions, including behavioral approaches to reducing emissions and energy use. A learning network for decision-makers in climate change and related fields, CMB organizes annual national symposia and ongoing regional meetings. It disseminates research and offers tools and resources for policymakers. Now working with the US Department of Energy, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, Columbia University and others, CMB has emerged as a promising new approach to climate change. Learn more about Climate, Mind and Behavior's 2011 successes here.
• A pioneer of contemplative trauma care. The Institute’s Wellness Project designed and delivered contemplative-based resiliency trainings for domestic violence shelter staff. It now works to develop resiliency trainings in other fields, including for human service providers, humanitarian aid workers and volunteer and professional caregivers, and is collaborating on a major symposium on contemplative-based palliative and end-of-life care. Learn more about the Garrison Institute's role in contemplative care and wellness here.
• A rich array of opportunities to learn and hone contemplative skills. Each year we present many retreats and programs supporting personal growth and social change, some focused on contemplative practices from diverse traditions, others on resiliency and leadership training for professionals. We welcome world-class teachers and students of all levels, from our historic Buddhist Teachers Council to accessible “gateway” retreats and scholarship programs that introduce contemplative practice to new audiences. Learn more about the opportunities offered at Garrison here.
• A world-class venue for retreats and meetings. Housed in a renovated former monastery on a bucolic stretch of the Hudson River an hour north of Manhattan, the Institute’s authentically contemplative setting attracts a wide range of users, many of whom keep returning. More than just an inviting place for retreats, the Institute is a supportive context for advancing and deepening engagement with the world.