The Naropa TCP Interview Scoop – Part 1

After a long weekend filled with friends’ wedding preparations, costume creation, and other neat things that I won’t have time for once I’m back in school, I’m ready to update you all on how my Naropa interview went.  I have to say that it was about what I expected, but at the same time made me even more eager to go back to school.

I arrived at the school at about 10:10 am, 20 minutes early.  This was partially due to a desire to give myself extra time in case anything went wrong, but also because my partner Casey needed the car later.  I entered the building, and was met by what could only be described as a labyrinth.  There are hallways everywhere, and the only common areas are the cafe (at the far end of the building), and a sort of center area where many of the hallways intersect.  To make things even more confusing, there are mirrors at the ends of many of the hallways, making them seem to go further than they actually do.  I had to ask a few people for directions before I found the bathrooms, and even then I had to walk through an area marked “meditation hall” that was a designated quiet area.

I ran into a few other prospective students during my time walking the halls, who seemed as lost as I was.  Eventually we were all brought to a room near the cafe, which had a lovely indoor water feature, as well as a table full of nametags and snacks.  I didn’t get to spend very much time in this room, however, as we were soon led to another room where we would all start the interview process.

The room we were brought to was fairly small, with wood floors and large windows.  There was a circle of cushions arranged on the floor for us to sit on.  While there were a few chairs, most of us sat on the cushions, which were quite comfortable.  A couple of people introduced themselves as the interview coordinators, and we were given a brief description of the philosophy behind Naropa’s education style.  Then, for a few minutes, the group leader described the “Naropa Bow.”

At some schools, the instructor will verbally call attention to the class in order to begin, and in others a bell signals the beginning of class time.  At Naropa, the class starts with a short bow.  It isn’t a complex movement; it involves sitting up straight, appreciating silence for a few moments, and then bending from the waist and inclining the head.  The bow is a symbolic movement, to focus your attention on the people present, and to acknowledge your willingness to bring everything you’ve got to the table for the time that everyone is together.

After the bow, we went around the circle introducing ourselves, and I got a taste for what to expect if I get accepted.  The brief descriptions that each person gave were quite varied, from the woman who had used art to work through a long recovery from illness, to the man studying the effects of auditory stimulation on the brains of trauma survivors.  I could tell that these individuals were at the forefronts of their fields of interest, which was an encouraging sign of what was to come in the program.

After we’d all introduced ourselves, we were taken to the meditation hall of the school.  It was pointed out that many schools have chapels, but few have meditation halls, and I must say I prefer Naropa’s choice.  The room was quiet and comfortable, and not very large.  It was full of cushions, this time facing an altar at the front.  Hanging above the altar was a banner with a sun on it, signifying the continual dawning of new opportunity with each moment.  On the altar were five objects in bowls: a mirror, a guitar, a cookie, scented water, and a ribbon.  These signified what we were offering to ourselves and to the world by meditating: our five senses, and the awareness we gain by using them.  We practiced shamatha meditation, focusing on the breath with our eyes open, for about ten minutes.  It was very relaxing this time, and allowed me to calm the nervousness I’d been feeling about my interview.

After this, we were dismissed for lunch. I am out of time to write this post, so I will describe the second half of the day during my next post.  In the meantime, feel free to ask about anything in this post that is unclear, or if you have any thoughts about Naropa’s interview process thus far!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carter Glenwood
    Mar 07, 2012 @ 04:39:10

    Just a fond Paramita memory of running around the circular hallways at full speed, around 9 p.m., barefoot, with Marie’s pug, Matilda.


    • Mari
      Mar 07, 2012 @ 04:43:13

      I imagine all those hallways are a sort of doggy heaven as long as they don’t run into the mirrors. Incidentally, I think that would create a really fascinating time lapse photo.


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