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'Introduction to Vipassana' meditation offered Thursday

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | June 17, 2014

Though basic meditation skills might seem at odds with today's fast-paced, competitive business world, Holli Semetko believes otherwise.

After earning an Executive MBA at Goizueta Business School (GBS) in Spring 2013, Semetko and her daughters spent five months in India when she was a Fulbright Nehru Scholar last fall. Having already studied compassion meditation in a course taught by Geshe Lobsang at Emory, Semetko has come to appreciate the many and diverse schools of meditation and yoga in India, and the importance of practice in daily life.

Greater self-awareness, well-being and spiritual growth are all potential outcomes from daily practice, she says. "It all depends on you,” adds Semetko, the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Media and International Affairs and Emory political science professor.

So when she learned that B.G. Savla, one of the senior teachers trained by S.N. Goenka, an internationally acclaimed teacher of Vipassna meditation, would be in Atlanta this month, Semetko joined with Emory colleagues to explore opportunities to host an instructional event focused on the popular, non-sectarian form of meditation.

And so it is that Savla will be on campus this week. The Emory community is invited to attend a free "Introduction to Vipassana" class on Thursday, June 19, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in W330 at Goizueta.

Semetko notes that the event was arranged through the support of colleagues Benn Konsynski, Craft Distinguished University Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management at Goizueta, and Lucky Jain, Richard W. Blumberg Professor and executive vice chairman for the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine, who is also a graduate of the Goizueta Executive MBA program.

"There is definitely some symbolism for offering it in Goizueta Business School," says Semetko, former director of Emory's Halle Institute for Global Learning.

"I think Benn would agree that GBS is a place with a lot of 'good vibrations'," she explains, with a chuckle. "Thus, it came naturally for Lucky and I to think of asking our executive MBA program professors if there might be a room available in GBS for the session."

Vipassana means "to see things as they really are," and as a meditative practice, it is open to everyone, regardless of background or belief. Vipassana meditation has also been described as "a practical method of self-awareness which helps make it possible to face everyday tensions in a calm, balanced way."

The introductory course is "come as you are," Semetko notes — no yoga mats or special clothing are necessary.

Participants will watch a short video and participate in 35 minutes of guided meditation while seated in chairs. The 90-minute session will conclude with a question-answer session, she adds.

For more information about the event, contact Sant Khanna at 770-521-9827. To learn more about Vipassana meditation, visit www.patapa.dhamma.org.