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Boulder’s Brilliant Sanity: Embracing Our Inner Light

In Boulder, a city that champions holistic health, residents find solace in the embrace of nature and the community’s commitment to physical, mental, and emotional well-being. At the heart of this sanctuary is Naropa University, a hub of contemplative education inspired by the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Here, the Buddhist concept of “Brilliant Sanity” offers a profound perspective on inner healing and self-compassion.

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Understanding Brilliant Sanity

Brilliant Sanity suggests that beneath our psychological distress lies an untouched core of clarity, compassion, and wisdom. This radiant inner light, our Brilliant Sanity, remains untarnished, regardless of the mental turmoil we may experience. It’s a shift in perspective that focuses on our innate healthiness and potential for growth.

lighted candle in brown ceramic bowl
gold and red hindu deity statue

Living Brilliant Sanity

More than a concept, Brilliant Sanity is a state of being inherent in all of us. It’s the clear, unobstructed awareness that persists even amidst stress or despair. Like the sun, always shining behind the clouds, our inner wisdom guides us through life’s challenges.

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buddha, statue, thailand

Mental Health Through a Buddhist Lens

Brilliant Sanity offers a transformative approach to mental health. It acknowledges our fundamental sanity and capacity for healing and self-awareness, emphasizing our basic goodness and potential for growth.

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Self-Compassion: The Heart of Healing

Self-compassion is central to Brilliant Sanity. It’s about extending kindness and care to oneself, as one would to a dear friend. In times of struggle, self-compassion allows us to accept our imperfections and offer ourselves grace.

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woman doing yoga meditation on brown parquet flooring
woman in white vest and black bikini with hand on chest

Brilliant Sanity in Practice

Applying Brilliant Sanity to mental health involves cultivating mindfulness and awareness. It’s about recognizing our basic goodness and using it as a foundation for recovery and personal growth, leading to a more compassionate and mindful existence.

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male, meditate, meditation
man in black shirt sitting on brown grass during daytime

Applying Brilliant Sanity to Daily Life

In Boulder, we can apply Brilliant Sanity by practicing mindfulness—paying attention to the present moment with openness and curiosity. This practice helps us connect with the brilliant sanity that lies within.

Gautama Buddha figurine near plants
a circular design made of sand on a beach

A Community of Compassion

Boulder’s community supports mental health and self-compassion. By embracing Brilliant Sanity, we empower individuals to explore their inner wisdom and inherent goodness.

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Naropa University: A Modern Sanctuary for Ancient Wisdom

The concept of Brilliant Sanity was introduced to Boulder and Western culture at large by Tibetan Buddhist teacher and meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Rinpoche founded Boulder’s Naropa University in 1974 to bring Buddhist practices and beliefs to the West. Nestled in the heart of Boulder, Naropa University serves as a modern sanctuary where the principles of Brilliant Sanity are taught and practiced. The university’s contemplative approach to education provides students with the tools to explore and embody these healing concepts.

Bhairav lake, GOSAIKUNDA yatra, Himalayas mountain, 4380m

Seeking Clinical Support in Discovering Your Brilliance

For those seeking clinical support, Boulder offers a wealth of therapists trained in Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology, many of whom are Naropa alumni.

gold buddha figurine on white table
person walking on beach during daytime


Embracing Brilliant Sanity invites us on a journey of inner healing, using self-compassion and mindfulness to navigate mental health complexities. It’s an invitation to rediscover our inner light and share its brilliance with the world.


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Want to Learn More?

If you’re interested in learning more about Brilliant Sanity, here a few resources you may want to explore.

  1. Kaklauskas, F.J., Nimanheminda, S., Hoffman, L., Jack, M.S., & Perlstein, J. [Eds.] 2008. Brilliant sanity: Buddhist approaches to psychotherapy (Revised and Expanded Editition). University of Rockies Press. https://www.academia.edu/50806010/Brilliant_Sanity_Buddhist_Approaches_to_Psychotherapy_and_Counseling_Revised_and_Expanded_Edition_
  2. Chophel, K. 2020. Being “Brilliant Sanity:” My journal reflection on mindfulness practice. Australian Counseling Research Journal, 33-36. https://www.acrjournal.com.au/resources/assets/journals/Volume-14-Issue-2-2020/Manuscript5%20-%20Being%20Brilliant%20Sanity.pdf
  3. GoodTherapy®, LLC. 2016. Contemplative Psychotherapy. Retrieved March 13, 2024 from https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/contemplative-psychotherapy.
  4. Wegela, K. K. 2017. You’re Basically Good — The Benefits of Contemplative Psychotherapy. Karen Kissel Wegela on therapy that starts with your basic sanity, not your neuroses. Lion’s Roar. https://www.lionsroar.com/youre-basically-good-the-benefits-of-contemplative-psychotherapy/
  5. Naropa University. 2024. About the Program: What is Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology?(2024). Naropa University. Retrieved March 14, 2024 from https://www.naropa.edu/programs/graduate-academics/clinical-mental-health-counseling/contemplative-psychotherapy-and-buddhist-psychology/about-the-program/

Dr. Brenna Bray, a local health and wellness coach, stress researcher, associate professor, and avid ultra-marathon mountain runner, holds PhDs in Biomedical Science, Neuroscience, and Complementary and Integrative Health. Her journey through an eating disorder fuels her dedication to coaching, merging personal experiences with scientific expertise. Through her practice, Bray empowers clients to access and harness their innate healing abilities and achieve remarkable health and wellness transformations. Committed to community engagement and holistic well-being, Dr. Bray shapes a brighter, healthier future for all. Learn more about Dr. Bray at www.brennabray.com.

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