Tomorrow the University will host a day-long symposium – Creativity, Consciousness and the Academy – espousing the philosophy behind the growing field of contemplative studies. The discipline fuses seemingly unrelated areas of study through a shared foundation in creativity and consciousness.

Creativity is essentially the action of consciousness. Prof. Ed Sarath, chair of the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation Studies, described creativity as “an innate impulse in human awareness to understand, explore and express through art and other disciplines the nature of existence.”

With a heightened appreciation for all studies and sharper perception, a student can be elevated to higher ground by developing a broader approach to the thinking process.

The concept is simpler than it sounds. Scientists can learn as much from a composer or psychologist as they can from their professional peers. The key is holistic reasoning.

Modern society has invested undue faith in science’s factual grounding, but, Sarath said, there are still “dimensions of reality that science is mystified by.” A more comprehensive outlook can provide unforeseen insight into scientific investigation that might not otherwise be possible.

Speakers at tomorrow’s convention make up a diverse crowd who will introduce the audience to meditation techniques and exercises in silence and musical improvisation.

Lofty ideologies aside, contemplative studies doesn’t just impact conceptual worldviews, but has also shown practical benefits. Students are more engaged in what they’re doing, feel more inspired and have considerably reduced stress levels.

Sarath said that “knowledge has long been viewed in mainstream education objective and external.” Institutionalized education too often transforms students into vacuous containers. Why dread going to class?

“The present generation of college students clearly has a thirst for delving into their inner lives,” Sarath said. Students are looking for meaning in their lives, and education as it stands does little to cultivate that craving.

Not surprisingly, Yale and Harvard’s progressive law schools have adopted contemplative studies as an integral part of their programs.

The University campus, a place of “visionary spirit,” is next in line.

Pre-registration online is required, but all students get in for free. You can sign up and see the itinerary at www.contemplativemind.org.

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