The Pilot Light

Student Highlight: Evey Healy on Contemplative Psychology

Photo by Nomali Perera

By Mozelle DeLong, 1st year Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling student

Evey Healy is a first year, undergraduate, transfer student in the Contemplative Psychology program at Naropa University. Traveling all the way from the east coast, Evey chose to make the transition out of a traditional undergraduate university and into the contemplative environment at Naropa. She made the switch to honor her personal journey by joining a community that would help facilitate and expand this process.

The following is an interview with Evey Healy, where she talks about where she came from, what drew her to Naropa, and her experiences within this supportive community.

MD: What drew you to Naropa?

EH: I learned about Naropa years ago through my high school poetry teacher. Even then, I felt like something was calling me there, but it took three additional years of suffering at a large traditional university before I had the courage to make the switch. I felt most often like a number in a crowd, without an identity, shuffling around the depressing campus.

I knew I wanted to be somewhere where I felt like a part of a community, where my thoughts and concerns would be heard and understood. I knew in order to thrive I needed to be where I felt cared for. This is what eventually drew me across the country from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Boulder, Colorado.

MD: As a transfer student, how has Naropa differed from your previous academic experiences?

EH: At Naropa, the most noticeable difference is the quality of the professors. The teachers here are truly passionate about what they are teaching, and genuinely concerned for our success and well-being as students. If you go to a professor with an issue, or something that is acting as an obstacle for you, they will go out of their way to make sure you have all the tools necessary to succeed.

Advisors and faculty also have this mindset. The people who have helped me plan my schedule are truly invested and want me to get everything I desire out of my education. They have taken the time to meet with me and double, even triple check that everything was in order. Finally, the biggest, most immediate difference one would probably notice is the communal aspect of being on campus at Naropa. You will find that people will smile at you, offer you a place to sit, and that you will feel part of the community in no time. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

MD: Why did you choose Contemplative Psychology?

EH: I began my interest in psychology early on in my college career. I quickly realized it was my newfound passion, but noticed I was still feeling alone and unmotivated in my classes. I knew there had to be a better way to achieve my dreams. I also desperately wanted to study yoga and get my teaching certificate. I realized I could do both of these things in a loving, safe, and accepting place at Naropa.

MD: What about the Contemplative Psychology program has been personally informative?

EH: Even though it is still my first semester at Naropa, I have learned a great deal about myself in that short time. In Buddhist Psychology I, we are learning to cope with our most human emotions using healthy methods. I am learning new forms of meditation, as well as to accept the human nature of the emotions we so often shy away from. Learning to sit with emotions, such as fear and anger, is one of the most valuable skills one could possess. I hope to pass this philosophy along when I work with individuals in my  future line of work.

MD: Do you have a regular contemplative practice? If so, what is it?

EH: Mediation and yoga have long been my favorite practices, as well as eating vegetarian (and now vegan) over the years. Since arriving at Naropa, I have developed new ways of adding to these practices, as well as learning more about the history and philosophy behind them.

MD: Could you tell me more about how hooping can be considered a contemplative exercise?

EH: Hula Hooping, or Hoop Dance is one of my all-time favorite contemplative practices. I have been practicing hoop dance for four years, and no matter how long I do it, it never ceases to amaze me.

For a very long time, I have considered a circle to be a sacred shape, and have always felt that learning to move with the flow of a circle is much like my own form of prayer. When I am hoop dancing, I am purely residing in the present moment, my mind does not stray or wander to other things, but is completely focused on the hoop. It allows me to calm my mind for a short period, be with my movements, while being one with nature.