Meditation and the Classroom

Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies

Edited by Judith Simmer-Brown & Fran Grace

Subjects: Education, Buddhism, Contemplative Studies
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Paperback : 9781438437880, 305 pages, August 2011
Hardcover : 9781438437873, 305 pages, August 2011

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Table of contents

Editors’ Introduction
1. The Convergence of Liberal Education and Contemplative Education—Inevitable?
Thomas B. Coburn

2. Meditation and Education: India, Tibet, and Modern America
Robert A. F. Thurman
3. Contemplative Studies: Can It Flourish in the Religious Studies Classrom?
Harold D. Roth

4. Contemplative Studies and the Art of Persuasion: The Institutional Challenge
Laurie L. Patton
5. From Content, to Context, to Contemplation: One Professor’s Journey
Fran Grace

6. The Collective Dynamics of Contemplative Practice
Christopher M. Bache

7. The Mindful Teacher as the Foundation of Contemplative Pedagogy
Richard C. Brown

8. Compassion Beyond Fatigue: Contemplative Training for Educators and Other Helping Professionals
John Makransky

9. Field Notes from a Daoist Professor
Louis Komjathy

10. Training the Heart Responsibly: Ethical Considerations in Contemplative Teaching
Judith Simmer-Brown

11. Invitation and Coercion in Contemplative Pedagogy
Sid Brown

12. Interiority and Higher Education: The Neurophenomenology of Contemplation
Tobin Hart

13. Embodied Contemplative Learning: Aikido as a Case Study
Michelle Lelwica

14. Reflections on Theory and Practice: The Case of Modern Yoga
Stuart Ray Sarbacker

15. Sustaining Life: Contemplative Pedagogies in a Religion and Ecology Course
Barbara Patterson

16. Adab: Courteous Behavior in the Classroom
Bridget Blomfield

17. Experiencing Medieval Christian Spirituality
Kristine T. Utterback

18. Awareness Practices in an Undergraduate Buddhism Course
Andrew O. Fort
19. Contemplative Inquiry: Beyond the Disembodied Subject
Anne Carolyn Klein and Ann Gleig

20. Love of Wisdom Puts You on the Spot: The Warrior Exam
Dale Asrael

21. A Meeting of the Minds in Cyberspace: Eco-contemplative Methods for Online Teaching
Jane Compson

22. Mindfulness in the History Classroom: Teaching as Interbeing
Shu-chin Wu

23. Two Contemplative Practices That Animate the Study of Religion
John D. Copenhaver

24. Mindfulness and Contemplative Practice in Art and Religion
Deborah J. Haynes

25. Emotional Learning: Re-cognizing Emotion and Thought in a Buddhism Course
Judith Simmer-Brown

26. Meditation in the Classroom: What Do the Students Say They Learn?
Fran Grace
Selected Bibliography
List of Contributors

A ground-breaking book on using meditation in education and how it can enhance teaching and learning.


Meditation and the Classroom inventively articulates how educators can use meditation to educate the whole student. Notably, a number of universities have initiated contemplative studies options and others have opened contemplative spaces. This represents an attempt to address the inner life. It is also a sign of a new era, one in which the United States is more spiritually diverse than ever before. Examples from university classrooms and statements by students indicate benefits include increased self-awareness, creativity, and compassion.

The religious studies scholars who have contributed to this book often teach about meditation, but here they include reflections on how meditation has affected them and their teaching. Until recently, though, even many religious studies professors would find sharing meditation experiences, let alone teaching meditation techniques, a breach of disciplinary and academic protocols. The value of teaching meditation and teaching about meditation is discussed. Ethical issues such as pluralism, respect, qualifications, power and coercion, and avoiding actual or perceived proselytization are also examined. While methods for religious studies are emphasized, the book provides valuable guidance for all those interested in this endeavor.

Judith Simmer-Brown is Professor of Religious Studies at Naropa University and the author of Dakini's Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. Fran Grace is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Redlands and the author of Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life.


"…this book is a good beginning point as it brings to the fore the pedagogical issues raised by contemplation in teaching and amply illustrates the variety of meditational practices that can be used in undergraduate instruction. " — Teaching Theology and Religion

"This is a landmark collection that incorporates insights, reflections, and recommendations from leading scholars and teachers who have had significant experience in contemplative pedagogy. " — Ruben L. F. Habito, author of Healing Breath: Zen for Christians and Buddhists in a Wounded World

"I was inspired by this book. It encouraged me to take risks in the classroom and to take risks as a human being as well. It hits the right balance of setting a larger context and providing helpful information about how practitioners actually accomplish this in the classroom. I have absolutely no doubt that this is the most important book published to date on contemplative pedagogy. " — Joseph A. Favazza, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Religious Studies, Stonehill College