The Tibetan Teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987), was a pioneer in the establishment of Buddhism in the West. In addition to founding meditation centers in Europe, the USA and Canada he also founded Naropa University in Boulder Colorado, and created a program in Contemplative Psychology.
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Buddhist Psychology
As Trungpa Rinpoche began teaching in western countries, he quickly realized that the language of psychology allowed him to transmit the essence of Buddhism to western students. He included terms from western Psychology in his presentation of Buddhist teachings. At a time when Meditation was still regarded as something esoteric or religious, he used words such as “ego”, “neurosis”, “fear”, “depression” and “unconscious mental patterns.”
In 1974 Trungpa Rinpoche founded Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) in Boulder, Colorado. A group of psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists taught a course of study called Contemplative Psychology.
In close collaboration with Trungpa Rinpoche, Ed Podvoll and a number of Naropa Graduates founded the Windhorse Program—Contemplative Psychology for caring for psychotic patients. Windhorse programs have grown and continue to be offered in Europe and North America.
Melissa Moore and Irini Rockwell, who had both been teaching extensively in North America and Europe, shared an interest in creating a Contemplative Psychotherapy/Psychology training in Europe. They developed a curriculum modeled on the Contemplative Psychology Masters program at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Hubert Backes, Elisabeth Fey, Dagmar Niehaus, Gabi Gokert and Angelika Schulz, who had a psychotherapeutic practice in Bielefeld, Germany, became the board.
In 1996 Melissa Moore, Phd, who had been trained at Naropa University met with a group of German psychologists and psychotherapists and with a few other collaborators, presented a training in contemplative psychology for professionals working in the fields of therapy, healthcare and medicine. This accredited training has been offered in Germany for the past 10 years for licensed professionals, and has now also expanded to Austria, France, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, and now North America.
Mindfulness in the Therapeutic Context
The last fifteen years has seen an explosion in research on the benefits of mindfulness in the therapeutic context. The work of contemplative psychology, long a small isolated movement, is becoming a mainstream practice. We are delighted to have been part of this journey and are deepening our collaboration with researchers in the fields of mindfulness and compassion.