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Mindfulness meditation is increasingly recognized as a health promotion practice across many different kinds of settings. Concomitantly, contemplative education is being integrated into colleges and universities in order to enhance learning through reflection and personal insight. The confluence of these trends provides an opportunity to develop experiential curriculum that promotes both health and learning through the teaching of contemplative practices in higher education settings. Such curriculum, if indeed it is believed to be a valuable development in higher education, must not be reserved only for elite and highly competitive schools serving traditional college students, but must be integrated into campuses of all kinds and made accessible to any student. This emphasis on accessibility will need to consider the growing interest in contemplative learning across economic, religious, and ethnic groups, geographic contexts, and individual differences, including disability. The growth of contemplative curriculum in higher education will also need to be accompanied by meaningful and valid curriculum assessment methods in order to abide by the standards of contemporary university settings as it gently transforms many such settings. This article describes the development of an experiential course in mindfulness that was taught on two very different college campuses. The author's personal experiences and preparation for the course, the course content, the impact of the course on students, and reflections on contemplative practice as a movement in education are offered as an example of the potential for contemplative education in some unexpected places.
Experiential learning in meditation and self-awareness can be valuably integrated into the college and university curriculum. Along with this promotion of experiential learning, greater attention should also be brought to the wisdom and diversity that students with disabilities bring to the college campus. A course was offered at a state university in the South in the fall of 2001 that aimed to address both of these educational goals. The course, entitled “Contemplative Practice, Health Promotion, and Disability on Campus: An Experiential Seminar in Partnership with Disability Support Services,” was developed through support from a Contemplative Practice Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. The experiential course content involved mindfulness meditation and somatic education. The course was open to all students, but students with disabilities were particularly welcomed. The following article describes the nature of the course, its development, and the results. The course syllabus is provided in the appendix.