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Karuna Origins

The Origins of Contemplative Psychology

Chögyam Trungpa

  in Patzquaro, Mexico at the Casa Werma Retreat Center

The origins of Karuna Training

The origins of Contemplative Psychology as it is taught in karuna training, arose as a Masters in Contemplative Psychotherapy degree at Naropa Institute, now Naropa University, in Boulder, Colorado.

Chögyam Trungpa,
 spiritual founder of Naropa Insitute, saw the arts and psychology as a portal to spiritual, specifically Buddhist exploration. He arrived in America at the perfect moment to embark on numerous avenues that served to plant Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism in the West. He established Naropa Institute in the summer of 1974 with a series of talks, which became a New Age mecca for the young seekers of the day.

New Ground

Chögyam Trungpa  sought to orient his psychology students to the potency of the present moment through meditation and contemplative discipline. He trained his early students in Maitri Space Awareness Practice which cultivates awareness of how space in environments affect psychology.

Trungpa’s approach, called ‘space therapy,’ detoured away from traditional diagnostic western psychopathology, which he felt failed to include and articulate the unconditional nature of intrinsic health. He didn’t deny psychological challenges.

Trungpa thought that orienting people to their relationship to space offered a more accepting and unconditioned approach to one's mind. Trungpa dedicated his entire life to translating ancient Tibetan Wisdom into modernized applications in everyday life.

Dr Ed Podvoll

When Dr. Ed Podvoll encountered Trungpa, together they birthed the Contemplative Psychotherapy program which continues today at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Podvoll trained in psychoanalysis with Otto Will and Harold Searles, both radical in their approach to working with severe mental challenges. They instilled a strong initiative in Podvoll to find a cure for severe and chronic mental illness.

Ed Podvoll founded the Naropa Masters in Psychotherapy Program at Naropa in 1978. During his life, Podvoll dedicated his life to contemplative methods, specifically Maitri Space Awareness. He published The Seduction of Madness in 1990 and entered a life-long retreat in a Tibetan Monastery in France 1994 - 2003. Podvoll passed in 2004.

Brilliant Sanity

The strong influence of traditional psychoanalytic training from Dr. Podvoll mixed with the realization and ancient wisdom of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism from Chogyam Trungpa. Together they birthed a body of work, a marriage of eastern and western views and psychology methods that allow students to explore psychotherapy from the inseparability of wisdom and confusion.

Dr. Podvoll went on to establish Windhorse Treatment, which is now called the Windhorse Legacy Project. Windhorse Therapeutics has made significant inroads in contributing to the field of treating those experiencing the 2nd state. He didn’t like us to utilize pathological language either and talked about hallucinations and related psychopathology as the ‘second state,’ emphasizing its normality and aspiring to normalize people’s circumstances.

Karuna Training is Born

The strong influence of traditional psychoanalytic training from Dr. Podvoll mixed with the realization and ancient wisdom of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism from Chogyam Trungpa. Together they birthed a body of work, a marriage of eastern and western views and psychology methods that allow students to explore psychotherapy from the inseparability of wisdom and confusion.

Dr. Podvoll went on to establish Windhorse Treatment, which is now called the Windhorse Legacy Project. Windhorse Therapeutics has made significant inroads in contributing to the field of treating those experiencing the 2nd state. He didn’t like us to utilize pathological language either and talked about hallucinations and related psychopathology as the ‘second state,’ emphasizing its normality and aspiring to normalize people’s circumstances.

Malissa Moore Co-founder to the Upaya LTD.

Melissa Moore held one seminar in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1995. The course was extremely successful, and during the class, Hubert Backes, had the idea to invite Melissa to train a group of therapists in Bielefeld, Germany. Dagmar Niehaus, Lisa Fey, Angelica Shultz, and the late Gabby Gokart are the people who initiated and designed Karuna Training.

Melissa Moore returned to America in 2004. Chris Tamjidi and Barbara Maertens took charge of Karuna Europe and continue to this day. Barbara Maertens's contributions to Karuna Training are unparalleled.

Karuna Europe has offered basic and graduate training cycles in DE, NL, FR, AU, SP, PO, and the UK.

Karuna North America is Born

In 2014 Sandra Ladley partnered with Melissa Moore to bring Karuna Training to North America. Karuna Training, unlike Naropa University, does not training therapists, but instead offers certification in Contemplative Psychology. Karuna is an interpersonal transformative opportunity. At the end of the training, one is more skillful in working with themselves and others.
Karuna Training has also developed a new language, such as ‘compassionate exchange’, and advanced MSA training methods over its 27-year existence.
At the time of this writing, Karuna Europe has run cohorts in 7 Countries; Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Austria, Poland, and the UK. In Karuna North America, we’ve run cohort cycles in NorCal, Seattle, Albuquerque, Baltimore, and LA.

Contemplative Psychology Training

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