Amelia Barili, PhD

World traveler from her early youth, Amelia Barili studied healing traditions in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. She has always been deeply interested in the subtle connections between body, mind and spirit, a passion that has taken her to many interwoven paths. In 1972, she graduated from Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in India, with a Diploma on Yoga Therapy and Classical Yoga and has taught yoga internationally for many years. She is also a disciple of Grandmaster Yang Mei Jun, the 27th generation inheritor of the Taoist Medical Qigong system developed in the sacred Kunlun Mountains in China.

A pioneer at integrating Classical Yoga, Qigong, and Meditation, connecting them to Science, Amelia has brought contemplative practices to broad audiences and to academic environments. She teaches youth and older adults a systematic embodied approach to personal and community transformation that integrates recent discoveries from neuroscience with contemplative practices from ancient wisdom traditions and volunteering. Amelia has been teaching Yoga, Qigong and Meditation for over 40 years.

While keeping her practice and her teaching of Eastern spiritual practices, Amelia developed a career as cultural journalist and professor. She worked at the BBC in London, producing and presenting “A World of Books”. In Argentina, she directed the literary section of the prestigious newspaper La Prensa and presented a TV program in which she interviewed artists and writers. In 1986 she was distinguished with the International Book Fair award for her dialogues with Italo Calvino, Yevgeni Yevtushenko, Jorge Amado and Jorge Luis Borges. Her last conversation with Borges, whom she counted among her friends, was published in The New York Times.

Amelia is faculty at the UCB Osher Lifelong Learning Instituteand professor emerita from UC Berkeley, where she received the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service in 2008 for her innovative courses and the work she and her students have done for decades in helping those in great need in our communities. With Fritjof Capra, the acclaimed author of “The Tao of Physics”and “The Web of Life”, Amelia created “Globalization and the New Global Civil Society”, including in the course a strong component of “service learning”. This methodology empowers students by showing them how they can make a difference by engaging in volunteer work in their communities while mastering an academic subject, and by contrasting theory and experience in their learning process.

Responding to the need for guidance for social and personal transformation, Amelia and Fritjof designed and taught “The Emerging Consciousness”. In that workshop Fritjof presents the latest discoveries of science on the subject of consciousness and discusses how they can be applied for sustainability and transformation in our institutions and society, while Amelia compares them to the corresponding findings in the thousands-years old empirical science of the mind of Yoga and Qigong, highlighting the amazing potential for self-transformation inherent in us. In that seminar she also teaches powerful healing practices to help cope with change and stress and to support the transformations we are bringing forth in our self and our community.

For many years, Amelia has been inspiring students with these practices at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, where she teaches “Integrating Classical Yoga and Taoist Qigong”. In those semester-long sessions, she shows how to practice powerful healing techniques from both wisdom traditions, in the form of easy daily routines that generate awareness of body and mind and promote resilience, creativity and optimal well-being.

She also integrates contemplative practices to foster deep learning and creativity in her classes at UC Berkeley. Amelia has done research and written on applying Neurobiology and Cognitive Science findings as bases for life-long learning. Besides discussing those findings at her interdisciplinary course on “Borges, Buddhism, and Cognitive Science” at UC Berkeley, she begins each class with brief meditations to foster the students’ ability to focus and observe their minds. Amelia also teaches “Meditation, Volunteering and Positive Neuroplasticity” at the UC Osher Life-Long Learning Institute where UC Berkeley professors teach selected courses to the Berkeley adult community. You can find out more about this blog and the Workshops page.

Dedicated to building bridges between the university and the community, and to opening the students’ hearts and minds to the experience of empathy and compassion in our diverse society, Amelia engages her students in serving the community by volunteering in assisting immigrants, refugees and at-risk minority groups. Inspired by the motto “each one teaches one”, she challenges students to a higher standard of learning, while at the same time helping them realize they can make a difference. For decades her students have volunteered, among other organizations, with East Bay Sanctuary Convenant (Santuario), a Berkeley NGO that provides legal assistance and community services to underrepresented communities. After volunteering there, many of her students have continued to serve immigrants and refugees in immigration law and other careers, and some of them are now in the team of Santuario. Because Amelia conceives the university as a space for personal and social transformation, she is active in researching and developing new ways of teaching and learning. She spearheaded and led Faculty Learning Communities for Engaged Scholarship and Change, a group of professors who are designing and re-shaping courses to have a greater component of community engagement.

As part of her unrelenting dedication to make education more inclusive and culturally responsive, Amelia expanded the criteria of what an American Culture course can be about, by designing Spanish 135AC “Identidad desde los márgenes: de Borges y Anzaldúa al Latino Conscious Hip Hop”. This course, cross-listed with American Cultures was the first one ever on campus to be taught in a language other than English. It moved the Committee on American Cultures Courses to revise their criteria for American Cultures courses. The revision of the Program’s criteria, inspired by Amelia’s course, has led to other changes that have fostered a richer, more diverse and more representative American Cultures Program.

Knowing that creativity and compassion are fostered and sustained by inner transformation, Amelia led at Spirit Rock “Entering the Now”, with Ajahn Amaro, Buddhist monk and teacher from the Thai Forest Tradition and abbot of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England –a frequent interlocutor of the Dalai Lama at the Mind Life Institute in Washington–. They presented transformative practices and approaches from Buddhism, Classical Yoga and Medical Taoist Qigong to explore the end of suffering through the awareness of the timeless quality of now. In her workshops on “The Power of Yoga and Qigong for Creativity and Self-healing” which she has been teaching for many years at leading human potential development centers, Amelia teaches powerful practices to access the mind through the body and the body through the mind. These time-tested techniques are so easy that anyone can practice them. They foster self-healing, resilience and creativity, to support personal transformation and to help us bring forth a better world.

Amelia graduating from Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute in India

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, with its sequels of fear, anxiety and depression, Amelia felt the urgent call to make immediately available to the community the gifts that she had received from her teachers throughout her life. She realized that COVID and the many challenges people faced, were causing a parallel pandemic of anxiety that was affecting everyone, depleting their health and relationships. Amelia began offering free online workshops every Saturday, in English and Spanish, recording them and uploading them to YouTube to make accessible to anyone who needs them practices for self-care and physical and emotional health, healing and awakening. You can join these Saturday workshops from the page on Workshops, and watch the videos in Amelia’s YouTube channel thenewparadigms. On that channel viewers can also see her conversations with Rick Hanson, Stephen Porges, Dan Siegel and other well-known neuroscientists, educators and writers.

Watch a presentation that Amelia did at UCB on the Embodied Mind: fostering life-long learning through volunteering and contemplative practices: