World traveler from her early youth, Amelia Barili studied healing traditions in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. She has always been 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 Comparative Philosophy of Religions and Classical Yoga and has taught yoga philosophy 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 and only recently introduced to the West.
While keeping her practice and her teaching of Yoga and Qigong, Dr. Barili 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 Barili teaches Latin American Literature and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley. With Fritjof Capra she 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. Fritjof Capra and Amelia Barili have also designed and taught together “Deep Ecology in Arts and Science”, where they presented what has been discovered in science, in the last twenty years, about consciousness and how it was anticipated and manifested by such artists as Pablo Neruda (another of Barili’s passions) and Andy Goldsworthy.
Responding to the need for guidance for social and personal transformation, Barili and Capra designed and taught “The Emerging Consciousness”. In that workshop Fritjof presented the latest discoveries of science on the subject of consciousness and discussed how they can be applied for sustainability and transformation in our institutions and society, while Amelia compared 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. She also taught 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, Barili 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. Dr. Barili has done research and written on the neurobiological and Cognitive Science bases of 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. Barili also teaches “Borges on Buddhism and Buddhism in Borges” and “Borges, Buddhism and Dreams” at OLLI (Osher Life-Long Learning Institute) where UC Berkeley professors teach selected courses to the Berkeley adult community.
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, Dr. Barili 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. Because she conceives the university as a space for personal and social transformation, she is active in researching and developing new ways of teaching and learning. Dr. Barili is part of BESI, Berkeley Engaged Scholarship Initiative, a group of professors, who are designing and re-shaping courses to have a greater component of community engagement.
For her innovative courses and the work she and her students have done over the last 10 years in helping the community, Barili has been distinguished with, among other awards, the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Public Service.
As part of her innovations, she expanded the criteria of what an American Culture course can be about, by designing Spanish 135AC “Identity From the Margins: From Borges and Anzaldúa to 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 to be more inclusive. The revision of the Program’s criteria, inspired by Dr. Barili’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 Barili led at Spirit Rock a retreat on “Entering the Now”, with Ajahn Amaro, Buddhist teacher from the Thai Forest Tradition and abbot of the Amaravati 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 human potential development centers such as Mount Madonna and Omega, she 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.
See a recent presentation Barili did at UCB on fostering creative thinking and life-long learning through service learning and contemplative practices. <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toi9mNVRrBg”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toi9mNVRrBg</a>