By Dr. Joe Loizzo
These past ten years developing Nalanda Institute with all of you—students, graduates, colleagues and friends—have been years full of discovery, revelations, opportunities, challenges, and unanticipated rewards. In preparing for our tenth annual benefit on June 12th, I’ve had a rare opportunity to take a long exhale with board members, faculty and graduates to look back over all we’ve accomplished together. In that same breath, hindsight showed with fresh perspective who we’ve become as an Institute and community and where our future must take us.
Every day I’m more in awe of how widely and avidly our popular and professional culture is investing in the healing power of contemplative methods of mindfulness, compassion, and embodiment. This welcome development brings not just the strongest possible validation of our mission, programs and community, but also a timely reminder for us to refine our crucial role in an increasingly broad and complex movement.
What emerged from these reflections is a sharpened focus on our unique place and emerging role as one of few established institutions today with the proven curriculum, expertise, and track record to train the mature contemplative leaders we urgently need to guide this revolution beyond simple mindfulness and yoga. Thanks to the foresight and commitment of our board members, core faculty, and devoted graduates, we’ve refined and updated our vision and strategic plan to take the Institute to the next level of impact and sustainability.
It is not a matter of individual talent or drive—it is a communal effort, the fruit of collective humility, and it takes a village.
As a community devoted to adapting one of humanity’s most rigorous traditions of contemplative science and practice to the here and now, we are more committed than ever to adapting the highest standards of contemplative education and training to reach as wide, diverse and inclusive an audience as possible. Our new strategic plan calls for three initiatives to make this refined vision a reality. Two of these are familiar initiatives any institution like ours needs to mature—evolving our organizational structure and process to support expanded growth and outreach, and developing a Contemplative Science Training Center to host the supervision, training, continuing education and community building of our program graduates.
But more vital than these two key initiatives, first and foremost in our plan comes the initiative board member Peggy Neu and I announced at the tenth annual benefit—the initiative we are officially launching today: the Nalanda Institute Fellows Program. The program comes out of an experience I have every Spring, like clockwork. Each year when it comes to graduation, I get more and more awe-struck by the amazing quality, depth, devotion, and diversity of our graduates. They—you—are the unexpected rewards of all the thought and work and heart so many of us have put into the Institute and its programs. The inspired and creative ways you have found to integrate your learning and practice into capstones and other application projects has been truly humbling, inspiring, and moving to me and our whole community. So the natural question has always been—how can we continue to support your development, and harness all your passion to expand our ability to reach more people like you?
The Fellows Program
Why is the Fellows Program the first step in our new strategic plan? How will it work? Comparable to post-graduate training programs like medical residencies, psychology internships, psychoanalytic training, and research fellowships in science, public health or public policy, Nalanda Institute’s Fellows Program is meant to foster the advanced professional training and ongoing personal development that are indispensable to the cultivation of the highest levels of leadership excellence and integrity. If such advanced training is required in narrow conventional areas of expertise like science or medicine, how much more necessary is it in the case of the deeper, wider and more nuanced human domain of contemplative leadership?
In the Nalanda tradition, unlike our own educational system, senior contemplative teachers are slowly cultivated over decades of intensive training, supervision, and mentoring. The caliber of contemplative leaders like H.H. the Dalai Lama, Ngawang Gelek Rimpoche, H.H. Sakya Trizin, Ngawang Tsoknyi Rimpoche and countless others is no accident. It is the natural fruit of a deliberate and sustained process of cultivating our humanity. It is not a matter of individual talent or drive—it is a communal effort, the fruit of collective humility, and it takes a village. As for individual drive, the negative examples of less mature contemplative leaders who have misused their position further underscore the need for extending the period of training so that graduates have the time to internalize not just knowledge and skills but the ethos, nuances, and lifelong communal bonds that make for true leadership excellence.
The aim of the Nalanda Institute Fellows Program is to fill the crucial gap in our graduates’ development between graduation and the eventual practical application of all they learn into a dedicated career track and path of lifelong development. In addition to providing ongoing guidance, mentoring, supervision and community for our graduates, it is our belief that the Fellows Program will also provide a vital avenue by which enterprising graduates can advance both their own career and the development of the Institute, through post-graduate research, program development, and/or community service.
If you are a graduate of one or more of our training programs—Contemplative Psychotherapy, CBRT Teacher Training, Meditation Teacher Training, Yoga, Mind & Spirit Training—if you feel called to pursue your path with Nalanda Institute, and if you have a community initiative, research study, or new program in mind, please read the additional guidelines below and do fill out an application. As an expression of their shared commitment to this vision, our board has offered a matching grant of $50,000, meant in part to seed this program. Awards in this first year will range from $5,000-$10,000 and involve an initial stipend to be be enhanced at the completion of project specific aims and objectives.
We live in a world on the verge of a great historic transition—from a self-centric, survival-based culture of competition to an other-centric, thriving-based culture of inclusive community.
If you want to help lead the change we need, and are committed to helping Nalanda Institute expand its reach and impact to more diverse individuals and communities locally and globally, please apply to become a Fellow!
Applicants must be a graduate of one or more of Nalanda Institute’s training programs—Contemplative Psychotherapy, CBRT Teacher Training, Meditation Teacher Training and/or Yoga, Mind & Spirit Training.
Your proposed project should advance the understanding of, or access to contemplative learning and practice in the Nalanda Tradition, and its application to both individual and collective well-being. For example, offering CBRT to an underserved community, developing a new application of Contemplative Psychotherapy for an underserved population, or designing or implementing a contemplative science research project at a university or hospital. Each project must involve a step by step timeline for completion, related to its specific aims, methods, objectives and outcomes.
Awards will involve an initial stipend that may be enhanced by further awards on the completion of project specific goals. They will be predicated on the applicant providing clear measures of outcome or impact, meeting project goals and deliverables such as study completion or acceptance of a publication; as well as to contributing back to Nalanda Institute by offering project related presentations to our community, by adding project-related enhancements to existing Nalanda Institute programs, or by developing new programs.
Fellows will be assigned a mentor or mentors experienced in the field of outreach, research or application to which the project will contribute. The mentor will supervise, consult, and advocate for the Fellow and her project, involving colleagues when necessary or helpful, for the duration of the project.