ONLINE • Big Sky, Big Mind: A Contemplative Astronomy Workshop
Andrea Schweitzer and Jim Tolstrup
September 10–12, 2021
- $75.00 – Generosity Policy - Subsidized Rate
- $150.00 – Program Price
- $200.00 – Generosity Policy - Supporter Rate
In this contemplative astronomy workshop, experience your personal connection with the universe. Throughout history, human beings have looked to the skies to follow the rhythm of the seasons and to ponder life’s mysteries. We can learn from ancient wisdom, from current understanding, and from our own contemplative journey. In this online program, you will get a taste of each.
This program takes place just before the fall equinox, which is an ideal time to find balance and to reignite our passion for the beauty of the universe. Our explorations will include:
• Interactive astronomy activities
• Guided tours of the constellations
• Periods of contemplation
• Presentations of astronomical lore from Celtic, Tibetan, and Native American traditions
All the activities take place within a relaxed and rejuvenating atmosphere. We will close each evening with a peaceful night sky meditation.
What is Contemplative Astronomy?
It’s fair to ask: What is a contemplative astronomy workshop? Contemplative inquiry is a time-honored practice that has no doubt led to important discoveries about the universe we inhabit. By bringing together scientific understanding and personal experience, human beings can establish connections between the abstract and experiential. In a study reported in the Journal of Contemplative Inquiry about learning astronomy, the students who engaged in contemplative study “reported experiencing a sense of physical embodiment, heightened sensory awareness, somatic relaxation, and mental stillness. Students also described experiencing insight …, a reawakened sense of curiosity, an intrinsic motivation to understand the observed physical phenomena, and a deepened awareness of their cognitive and emotional processes.”
To put it another way, contemplative astronomy can unite body, mind and spirit under a big, big sky. You will not only learn about the night sky, but you’ll learn about meditation and contemplative practices that can enhance your experience and understanding.
Who Should Participate in this Workshop?
Experience is not a prerequisite, nor will it exclude you from this joyful exploration of mind and sky. You need only to appreciate looking up at the universe. Whether you are an experienced stargazer with an astronomy background, an experienced meditator, or have no experience in either one, you are welcome to join this weekend. If you do have meditation experience, you may find that a few minutes each evening or an early morning spent stargazing, in awareness of the moon’s phase and the seasonal patterns of the stars, can be a wonderful addition to your contemplative practice. Begin or deepen your meditation practice, and take home a meaningful connection to the night sky.
What People Say About Big Sky, Big Mind
Andrea Schweitzer, PhD, is an astronomer with the Little Thompson Observatory in Colorado and a professor of physical sciences for Western Governors University. Having collaborated with NASA on programs such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Voyager missions, she balances her work with her personal practices of stargazing, yoga, and meditation.
Jim Tolstrup, a director of Shambhala Training, has been a practitioner of indigenous wisdom traditions since 1977. He is a co-founder and the past president of Cankatola Ti Ospaye, a non-profit supporting Native American elders. Jim is the executive director of the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland, Colorado, and author of SUBURBITAT – A guide to restoring nature where we live, work and play.