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Contemplative Environmental Practice

GEP Workshop

Photo by Chase Clow

Contemplative Environmental Practice


A workshop/retreat for professors and activists

July 27 - August 2, 2016

Location: Lama Foundation, San Cristobal, New Mexico

Cost: $980 (includes fees, accommodations, and meals); $810 for graduate students


How can we best live at this moment of severe environmental degradation? How can we work and teach on behalf of environmental wellbeing without becoming overwhelmed, embittered, or burned out? Is there a way to thrive in our environmental commitments?

This workshop brings together activists and professors to share ways of living on the frontlines of environmental concern. Activists and professors both struggle to shape widespread thought and behavior on behalf of environmental wellbeing. The workshop provides an opportunity to exchange insights, methods, and perspectives to enhance our respective work.

At the heart of the workshop is the use of contemplative practices. Too often professors and activists put aside their personal lives as they take up the task of their professional commitments. For many of us, this creates a gulf between our psychological and spiritual preoccupations, on the one hand, and our jobs as activists and teachers, 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. We will develop ways of recognizing not simply the biophysical but also the moral, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of these problems. We will investigate the terrain of our interior landscapes while concomitantly sensitizing ourselves more deeply to questions of justice, the wellbeing of the more-than-human world, and the challenges of actively extending care through our efforts. Additionally, we’ll explore how to hold the depth and heartbreak of environmental issues without falling into despair. 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 allow 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.