Perspectives, news, and announcements from the Center that will ignite your passion for wellbeing.

What Draws the Center Together

May 15, 2014

"Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life." - John Gardner

I love this quote from the American writer John Gardner. He goes on to say that you build meaning out of your past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, and out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. I am often asked the question what draws people to the Center and holds the Center together. It is not an altogether easy question to answer. When the Center began almost 20 years ago, we anticipated that we would draw students in the health sciences to our courses and programs. That certainly happened! What we didn’t anticipate was that students from literally every school and college on campus would enroll in our academic courses, and that our faculty would grow to represent the rich diversity for which the University of Minnesota is known.

While health science students take courses that will expand their knowledge base and skills so that they can be more effective health care providers and healers, we have law students interested in integrating mindfulness into their practices or focusing on contemplative law. Music students interested in learning how to better manage stress and performance anxiety also take our courses along with horticulture students exploring horticulture therapy, and business students wanting to learn applications of mindfulness in leadership. As you can imagine, this creates an incredible environment for learning and discovery. For many of the students and faculty, their relationship with the Center is a core strategy for building meaning into their life. Their Center work fuels their passions and is aligned with their deepest values.

The University is embarking on a bold, new strategic plan that will focus on solving great challenges – the global issues that the world faces today. In parallel with this effort, the Center has begun its next cycle of strategic planning. We are in the process of asking the hard questions – what are the compelling issues and opportunities within our scope of influence, and how do we grow and leverage the assets of the Center to meet those needs.

We know that partnerships within the University and the community will be key to our success as will philanthropic support. We are curious about what is on your mind and what you see as the trends and issues that we should be noticing. We are very open to any feedback or suggestions that you might have. Feel free to email me at

I recently met with a PhD student from abroad who came to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in a field that she thought would be her focus for decades to come. While she is in the final stages of finishing that degree, she is also completing a graduate certificate in integrative therapies and healing practices. When she returns to her country of origin, she has an entirely new vision and plan of what she will be doing in her career as a result of the time she spent at the Center for Spirituality & Healing. She asked to meet with me so that she could explain how she came to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree and is leaving with so much more. Hearing stories like that are inspirational and remind us of the privilege we have in doing the work of the Center for Spirituality & Healing.


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Mandala is a biannual magazine produced by Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing. It captures the core aspects of the Center: reflection, transformation, spirituality, creation, and the ongoing journey that continues to shape what we are to become.

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