Creative Inquiry 10: Spacious Minds, Trauma, and Tibetan Buddhism - Sara Lewis

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If you're intrigued by a professor who teaches courses called "Divine Madness: Dreams, Visions, Hallucinations," "Religion, Medicine, and Healing," and "Good Deaths: From the Tibetan Book of the Dead to the ICU," then this episode is for you. Sara Lewis, Ph.D., is an Anthropologist of religion and medicine specializing in Tibet and South Asia. We discuss her ethnographic research with Tibetan exiles which investigates how Buddhist concepts of time and memory shape responses to trauma, and how those cultural ideals collide with global human rights narratives. We explore the creativity of designing a syllabus, creative inquiry as pedagogy, what it means to have a flexible or spacious mind, the balance of compassion and the Buddhist notion of "emptiness," the creativity of ethnographic research and qualitative interviews, and much more. -- Sara Lewis, Ph.D., is an Anthropologist of religion and medicine specializing in Tibet and South Asia. As an anthropologist working at the intersection of culture, religion, and mental health, her work considers how individuals and communities cope with distress and cultivate resilience. Her forthcoming book from Cornell University Press investigates how Buddhist concepts of time and memory shape responses to trauma, and how those cultural ideals collide with global human rights narratives. A new project--a transnational ethnography on death and dying among Tibetan exiles--considers an apparent paradox: how a temporal focus on rebirth may enhance agency and empowerment in the present. Watch out for a Twin Peaks (original series) spoiler at 11:15-11:30. Dr. Lewis currently teaches at Wellesley College in the area of religion, healing and medicine. Her courses are interdisciplinary and engage approaches and methods in anthropology, religion, Buddhist Studies, and global health. She is particularly interested in mentoring students who wish to explore the dynamic intersections of global health, medicine, and other clinical endeavors. She currently chairs the Critical Anthropology for Global Health (CAGH) Special Interest Group of the Society for Medical Anthropology, which examines how critical medical anthropology theory and practices may inform global health. In addition to her research and services activities, Sara previously worked in community mental health as a social worker in the areas of serious mental illness, mindfulness, and palliative care. Outside of the classroom, she can be found in the mountains or on a meditation retreat. You can access a selection of Sara's publications here: https://wellesley.academia.edu/SaraLewis

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