Mastering the Art of Happiness: Nyingma Psychology Certificate Program

Mastering the Art of Happiness

Nyingma Psychology Certificate Program

There is an art of happiness based on a profound science of mind transmitted for centuries through the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. For forty years the Nyingma Institute has presented these teachings in ways that can be readily assimilated into our modern lives. Now we also offer a cohesive program to train students in the art of happiness—cultivating a joyful approach to life based on insight into the workings of mind, emotions, and thought.

Using analysis and meditation to precisely determine mental and emotional states, students learn to cultivate and maintain joyful ease—a deep relaxation of body and mind that leads to greater flexibility and authenticity. Applying antidotes that transform negative states of mind, inner suffering is diminished.

At the heart of the program are introspective practices that facilitate individual insight and the strength to enact positive change. Discussion centers on teachings from the Tibetan tradition presented in a non-dogmatic fashion that fosters each student’s journey of inner discovery. The texts utilized are written by the Institute’s founder, Tarthang Tulku. The goal is for each student to gain the skills needed to find greater joy and meaning in their lives.

Program Components: Four core classes, two core workshops, one elective retreat, one elective class, and two workshops.In individual cases, to further a student’s educational goals, elective classes, workshops and retreats may be substituted for those on these lists with the written consent of both the Program Director and the Chief Academic Officer.

Program Length: Minimum 1 year (52 weeks); maximum 2 years (104 weeks). Includes 130 hours of in-class instruction.

Costs: Tuition: $1,500 (may be paid quarterly); Registration fee of $26. Tuition costs cover all core and elective classes and workshops and one nonresidential retreat.

Advisors: Students are paired with an advisor who helps them through the enrollment process and advises them in their studies.


Mastering the Art of Happiness Program Components

Core Classes (may be taken in any order)

NPS107 Insights from Buddhist Psychology (September Quarter)

Attitudes, aspirations, emotions, and concepts shape who we are and determine what we do more surely than any outside influence. Recognizing their power and discovering their inherent changeability are keys to truly caring for ourselves. Meditations and insights from Buddhist Psychology help us navigate our inner landscape, providing essential practices for well-being.

NPS104 The Art of Happiness (Fall Quarter)

Through analysis and meditation practice, this course explores the attitudes, actions, and introspective practices that can lead to a rich life in touch with joyful feeling and deeper values. Topics covered include: opening the heart to feeling; the value of generosity; healing through meditation; and expanding joy and inner peace.

NPS101 Reclaiming the Heart (Winter/Spring Quarter)

Mind can reflect immense beauty, love, and clarity, but mind can also weave an intricate web of suffering. The purpose of this 5-month course is to awaken self-knowledge and inner joy. Class sessions include powerful non-conceptual meditations. They present key ideas and techniques from the Tibetan tradition that help each student discover more of the rich inner fulfillment that our mind and senses offer. Topics include: transformation through love; emotions as hidden knowledge; freedom from negative conditioning; and contacting authentic being.

NPS102 Transforming Negative Emotions (Summer Quarter)

Introspective practices and insights from the Buddhist tradition can transform the destructive power of “everyday” negative emotions. Based on Tarthang Tulku’s Openness Mind, this course gives specific antidotes for anger, fear, anxiety, and attachment.


Core Workshops (held Saturdays, 10 AM to 4:45 PM)

NPS401 Transforming Negative Emotions (Winter Quarter)

Potent meditations and analysis pacify unwanted emotions without suppressing them. First, students learn to balance and clear the mind; then they develop insight into how emotions arise. Finally, students learn techniques that help transform the negative aspect of emotional energy.

NPS405 The Self-Image (Spring Quarter)

False expectations, judgments, and negative emotions are based on complex images that we hold of ourselves and the world. This workshop looks directly at how self-images develop and how students can free themselves from their compulsive power.


One elective class (choose one fifteen-hour class or two short classes):

NPS103 Working With Emotions

Emotions can be binding and painful, but they can also be great teachers. This class teaches meditation exercises for working with emotions in daily life. Learning to use mindfulness to appreciate the transient nature of emotions can free us from the tendency to cling to both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. We discover the key to transforming negative emotional energy.

NPS104 Gesture of Balance

Through analysis and meditation practice, this course explores the attitudes, actions, and introspective practices that can lead to a rich life in touch with deeper values. Topics covered include: opening the heart to feeling and compassion; relaxation; meditation; awareness; and trusting the inner teacher.

NPS105 Heart Practices for Daily Life

This five-week course is about how to keep the heart open in the midst of activity. Course presents awareness exercises that help sustain emotional balance and ease. Discussion will highlight practical ways to bring compassionate values to work and family life. (Counts as half a class.)

NPS106 Nyingma Gateway: Love of Knowledge

This course was designed by Tarthang Tulku to introduce a new way of understanding love and knowledge. Unique meditation, movement, and awareness practices blend with lecture and discussion and become a gateway to understanding the Tibetan Nyingma approach to life.

NPS107 Inner Psychology

Mind rules our lives. But what is mind? Buddhist psychologists have studied this question for thousands of years. Drawing on their insights, this course examines mind, thought, and emotions and shows how impoverishing mental patterns can be transformed into liberating growth. Includes mindfulness and meditation practices. (Counts as half a class.)

NPS108 Special Topics in Nyingma Psychology

Topics include comparison between Eastern and Western psychological approaches, ways to maintain emotional health and balance, and developing positive mental states such as patience, joy, love, and compassion.

NPS201 Path of Self-Mastery

The human heart and mind have the power to recover integrity and depth. The path of self-mastery frees one from the self-imposed demons of emotionality. In this class, passages from the words of the Buddha illustrate and deepen the teachings and practices of Nyingma Psychology. Class may be repeated as content changes.

SKM101 Mastering Successful Work

Students learn how to develop a regular rhythm of awareness practices in all activities to increase relaxation and accomplishment. Class practices and discussion help students engage tasks in ways that make work more enjoyable and productive.

SKM102 Achieving All Goals

This class teaches students how to use the pressures and challenges of work as a powerful spiritual practice. Consistent with the highest Buddhist teachings, the obstacles of daily life are transformed into opportunities for change, growth and accomplishment.

SKM103 Skillful Means

The Skillful Means approach to work integrates practical skills with positive attitudes. Work is transformed into a dynamic learning process that is not only pleasant and invigorating, but also gets the job done. This course teaches how to apply the Skillful Means approach to your work situation.

TSK101 Experiencing the Dynamic of Time

At the edge of the future, time sparkles; in the richness of feeling and energy, time glows. Practices focus on finding these places and allowing them to expand and deepen. Students discover time coursing through the body and mind—a dimension wholly inseparable from their own being.

TSK102 Opening Space

Space is primordially peaceful and open. Its openness accommodates all views and all experience, gathering them together without denying their unique contributions. In this course students work with Tarthang Tulku’s book Time, Space, and Knowledge to expand their experience of space and spaciousness.

TSK103 Inviting Knowledge

The presence of knowledge within our lives brings to experience light and clarity, nuance and confidence. Embodying knowledge, we are free to be creative and responsive. To realize this embodiment, we must first invite knowledge into our being. The activation of this step is the guiding intention of this course. The course entails practice, readings, and deep and honest inquiry.

TSK104 TSK Right from the Start!

Knowledge, as the interplay between the openness of space and the creativity of time, is accessed through dialogue and contemplative exercises. This course awakens the discerning capacity of the mind.

TSK108 Special Topics in Time, Space, and Knowledge

The static and rigid structures that seem to both express and dominate our lives can be loosened and transformed. Old patterns and old ways of being need not be. The TSK vision informs this search. Special topics in this vision include: mind and the origin of appearance, the path from ordinary to great time, the possibility of knowledge as commanding insight.

NPR103 Dream Yoga and Authentic Communication

The practices of dream yoga can heighten awareness and enhance the ability to communicate more fully. Students receive instruction and practice in dream yoga; discussion focuses on ways to contact authentic ways of being. (Counts as half a class.)

NPR107 Tibetan Teachings on Death and Dying

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition gives detailed instructions on how to prepare for death. This class will present an overview of some of these teachings and descriptions of the “bardo,” the state between incarnations.

KOF101 Alternatives to Dissatisfaction

We can find a new way of being in the world, one that leads away from dissatisfaction and toward the knowledge we need to live a meaningful life. Based on Knowledge of Freedom.

KOF102 Awakening Knowledge

Reaching out for fulfillment feeds endless longing. And inward grasping—even in the search for knowledge—yields nothing truly new. Trying too hard, and in the wrong way, we separate ourselves from our heart's delight. In this course students look at the process of self-deception; in doing so, they become undeceived.

KOF103 Penetrating the Dynamic of Pain

If we allow ourselves the freedom to question and observe our experience, we discover new dimensions and approaches that will enrich our lives and prepare us for the changes to come. This course teaches students to use the mind as an “inner laboratory” where we can penetrate the dynamic of pain to reveal the endless riches of knowledge.

KOF104 Education for a New World

Our current times present us with an unprecedented number of questions, conflicts, and challenges. We can educate ourselves to bring new currents of insight to bear on these problems, nourishing our inner being and attuning ourselves to a fundamental sense of beauty and order. Based on Knowledge of Freedom.

KNR101 Beginning Kum Nye: Promoting Spaciousness

Kum Nye teaches us to live spaciously as it gently moves us beyond perceived limits and boundaries. Students open the senses and then navigate the space of sensations, emotions, and perceptions, moving toward an integration of body and mind.

KNR102 Beginning Kum Nye: Working with Lower Body Energy

In this course, Kum Nye exercises will be presented that energize the belly, hips, legs, and spine. Bringing awareness to the lower part of the body in this way counteracts being ‘stuck’ in our heads and brings us in touch with the vitality of our full embodiment.

KNR103 Beginning Kum Nye: Releasing Tension and Restoring Balance

Kum Nye movement and awareness exercises help release physical and emotional tension. Practices in this course will focus on giving students tools to restore balance to their lives and deepen their spiritual awareness.

KNR105 Beginning Kum Nye: Expanding Enjoyment and Ease

A series of Kum Nye practices that help to reduce physical and mental tension are combined with practices that expand the enjoyment of each of the senses.


Elective workshops (choose a total of ten hours):

NPS402 Overcoming Fear of Transformation

Practices and discussion in this workshop center on counteracting the fear and inertia that pull us back into habitual or negative patterns of thought and action. Teachings and exercises help harness the dynamic power of time to create positive change.

NPS403 Fear and Illusion

Fear can obstruct the best intentions and paralyze the ability to act. Using experiential exercises and discussion, students examine how fear takes hold and manifests within body and mind. Then they work with meditations that challenge fear’s hold.

NPS404 Topics in Transforming Emotions

Human emotions can be skillfully transformed through innovative Nyingma Psychology practices. This workshop focuses on topics that lead to emotional health.

NPS406 Activating Joyous Feeling

Meditation, awareness, and movement practices awaken and expand joyous feelings. Students will learn exercises that distribute deep feelings of joy through both body and mind.

NPS407 Transforming Personal History

Habits and patterns intertwined with painful past memories often prevent us from enjoying the freedom and beauty that the human body and mind offer. It is possible to skillfully touch these memories in a way that cuts through their power to restrict us. Practices from Knowledge of Freedom can help transform personal history from a source of pain into a wellspring of renewal.

NPS408 Compassion, Mindfulness, and Well-Being

Teachings that promote mindfulness and compassion can catalyze healing. Students learn awareness and compassion practices that teach them to better manage both physical and emotional challenges and to improve well-being.

NPS409 Attaining Inner Confidence

An infinite source of well-being lies within body and mind. This workshop teaches students how to develop confidence to access and follow the knowledge in their hearts. Students learn ways to expand mindfulness and openness at all times.

NPS410 Clear Mind, Open Heart

There is a dynamic interplay between mind and heart. Practices and discussion in this workshop will help integrate head and heart knowledge, unlocking creativity and opening the heart.

NPS412 Emotions, Intelligence, and the Mind

In this workshop, students learn to look inward to discover the root of frustrations, failings, and even misfortunes within the mind. Meditations and analyses are introduced to penetrate emotionality, transforming inner and outer experience through a natural clarity and ease.

NPS411 Loving Yourself, Loving Others

In order to love others fully, we must also learn to love ourselves. Then we find an unending source of unconditioned love that we can freely share. This workshop presents classic Buddhist teachings that expand love and compassion beyond all boundaries.

NPS415 Essential Practices for Well-Being

Experiential practices, including meditation, imagery exercises, and Tibetan Yoga help calm body and mind, expand the senses, and open the heart. This workshop leads students through these practices in gentle but effective ways that require no previous experience with meditation. (Counts as 2 workshops.)

NPR401 Dream Lotus Evening

This workshop offers instruction in dream yoga practice and in practices that relax tension in the throat area. An additional half-hour of instruction in the practice will be given to Program students. (Counts as half a workshop.)

NPR409 Transitions as Teachers

Times of transition present unique opportunities to make fundamental changes. Although they are universal, the most powerful transitions—death, illness, loss—are often deeply feared. This workshop presents ways to cultivate an awareness of both small and large transitions as positive and natural forces of creativity. Letting go of the fear of transformation, we discover within transition new beginnings and vast possibilities.

KNR403 Opening the Heart

The heart holds the key to leading a happy life in harmonious and loving accord with others. Kum Nye practices open the heart to deep levels of feeling and appreciation. This workshop includes exercises that loosen physical tension in the chest and upper back.

KNR404 Balancing Emotions through Tibetan Yoga

Kum Nye exercises relax and heal both body and mind. Movement, breathing, and awareness exercises transform tension and restore emotional balance, easing the stress of everyday life. Students will master exercises that can be used both in formal practice and in the midst of activities.

MED401 How to Meditate

This workshop is for beginning students and for anyone wanting to try meditation again. Sitting, walking, and breathing practices and simple Tibetan chanting will be introduced. (Counts as half a workshop.)

TSK403 Creativity and Consciousness

Understanding the link between creativity and consciousness allows us to bring the creative process more fully into our lives. In this workshop we will work with meditation, awareness, and movement practices that heighten awareness of what leads to creativity.

One elective retreat chosen from the following:
Note: the program cost includes a nonresidential retreat only; if you wish to attend the retreat residentially, there will be an additional fee for room and board.

NPS501 Transforming Negative Emotions

In this retreat we will explore and apply potent meditations with both experiential and analytical dimensions that pacify unwanted emotions without suppressing them. First, we balance and clear the mind; then we develop insight into how emotions arise; finally, we apply techniques that help transform the negative aspect of emotional energy.

NPS502 Cutting through Conditioning

Much of what we do is bound by conditioning: patterns of action imprinted within our body and mind. Once established, conditioned patterns operate automatically and obscure the fresh vitality –the wonder—of our experience. Through skillfully observing mental images, we can recognize and then release the layers of conditioning that have accumulated throughout our lives. Topics covered include: self-image; the cyclic nature of fascination and anxiety; and Abhidharma analysis of discerning mental events.

NPS503 Loving Yourself, Loving Others

We can find unconditioned love for ourselves and for others. Mantra, visualization, meditation, and movement exercises help develop and expand compassion and love beyond all boundaries. Practices and lecture are based on the traditional practice of the “four immeasurables” of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

NPS504 Touching Wonder and Facing Fear

Moments of deep inspiration teach us that there are wondrous dimensions to our bodies, minds, and the world around us. Yet, we also know that our capacity for the extraordinary is often dimmed by fears and conditioned responses. In this retreat, meditation and movement practices help wake students up to inner spontaneity. At the same time, awareness exercises focus on a new kind of emotional honesty: one that sees emotions as doorways through which we can pass freely. Fear is the gatekeeper that we must befriend and overcome.

NPS505 Reclaiming the Heart

When the heart is closed, concentration is fragmented and we are easily distracted. Frustration, irritation, and yearning can overwhelm inner peace and satisfaction. In this retreat, students listen attentively to the voices of the heart through consciously cultivating compassionate aspirations and awakening unconditioned love and joy. Touching deeper aspirations, they begin to develop genuine self-respect and separate themselves from judgment and conditioning.

NPS506 Self-Image: Observing, Recognizing, Releasing

We break free from the restrictive force of self-images through developing the ability to observe experience steadily. Then we can recognize how mental and emotional patterns are structured and more easily release what is negative. In this retreat, students master the process of observing, recognizing, and releasing, unlocking the secrets of how mind operates.

NPS507 Luminous Mind

The fullness of being, luminous and free, reveals itself through visualization and dream yoga practices. A mirror-like equanimity arises; all things, inner and outer, dance with a new sense of harmony and light.

KNR502 Kum Nye: Breath, Energy, Feeling

In this Tibetan yoga retreat, students use breath and movement exercises to stimulate and direct the energy of body and mind, visualization practices to awaken and sustain inner vitality, and meditation practices to foster serenity.

KNR503 Kum Nye: Attuning to the Present Moment

This retreat makes use of the full range of Kum Nye exercises to help each retreatant integrate a rich array of positive feelings into body, senses, and mind.

KNR505 Tibetan Yoga for Healing and Energy

Breath and movement exercises awaken an inner vitality that is directly linked to a natural healing process. Meditation and visualization practices deepen this process.

MED501 Silent Retreat

This retreat’s practices are done in silence with suitable instructions for meditation and study given to each participant individually. The retreat is designed to allow participants to deepen their meditation practice in the protected environment of the Nyingma Institute.

MED503 Developing Clarity

The focus of this meditation retreat is insight meditation (Vipassana). Analytic meditation will be introduced along with meditations to calm the stream of distracting thought.

MED506 Reflection and Insight

This meditation and Nyingma Psychology retreat teaches students how to quiet the mind, release emotional tension and establish the conditions for insight to arise. Students work with both meditative practices and analysis to relax, reflect, and set aspirations for health and well-being.

TSK501 Time, Space, and Knowledge: Visionary Inquiry

In this retreat, students move toward the heart of Space and Time through experiential practices from the Time, Space, and Knowledge vision. Touching the “space” and “time” of inner experience reveals a realm of unimaginable spaciousness and limitless potential. This retreat is taught with a minimum of discussion, allowing the practices themselves to bring each participant into a felt relationship with Time and Space.


*In individual cases, to further a student’s educational goals, elective classes, workshops and retreats may be substituted for those on these lists with the consent of the Program Director or the Chief Academic Officer.