Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients of the Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ Award. A Spiritual Exploration Field Period™ involves work with churches, missions, hospitals, or hospices with an eye toward providing aid to needy individuals and/or groups, in this country or abroad. Funding for the scholarship is provided by an Institutional Renewal Grant from The Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College.
Seniors Samantha Layton and Alexandra Fiore have similar goals for their future. They both are psychology majors and plan to earn master’s degrees—Layton in cognitive behavior therapy and Fiore in transpersonal psychology.
To help achieve those goals, each student completed a Field Period™ at Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lake, Colo. Established in 1971, Shambhala Mountain Center provides an opportunity to explore paths of deepened awareness, personal well-being and societal transformation. The center offers indigenous wisdom traditions, body awareness practices, contemplative arts, and mindful living, among others.
Layton, a resident of Painted Post, is a Methodist, which to her “means the decision to respond to God’s grace with intentional commitment and who takes the responsibility for living as a member of the body of Christ and fulfilling God’s purposes.”
But she said that throughout her college studies, she has become introduced and “felt connected” to other religious practices, including the teachings of Buddha.
“I have found myself practicing insight meditation, which has allowed me to become intrigued with mindful awareness,” said Layton. “This exploration has brought me to want to further my knowledge of the mind, body, and spirit through the teachings of Buddha.”
So does Fiore. The Brookfield, Conn. resident has “acquired a sense of loving kindness for myself by practicing meditation on my own,” she said. “I have noticed and developed an appreciation for the Buddhist teachings, and this Field Period™ was an opportunity to directly correlate those teachings to with my future career. It also helped me let down all of my guard and find a love and compassion for myself as well as others.”
Layton said that while she believes she is in touch with God, she feels out of touch with herself.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Layton. “[A retreat such as this] was something I imagined taking part in since my exploration into the teachings of Buddha.”
She expected to develop a “depth of realization of Buddha’s path of liberation” during her Field Period™, and Layton believes “this opportunity will continue to benefit me after the completion of my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “My experience at Shambhala Mountain Center will help me with my future clients because I will be able to utilize my experience to help others.”
Fiore, too, intends to use what she learned during her Field Period™ while pursuing her master’s degree and career.
“I wanted to see how self-knowledge and understanding grow as we realize we can live each moment either with inattention, fear and judgment, or with clarity, kindness and wakefulness.
“By cultivating the power of awareness, we discover our path to liberation, inner freedom and a peaceful heart,” said Fiore. “This Field Period™ meant more than anything to me because it was the first step I have taken to broaden my horizons.”