Mark Nepo Workshop – Drinking from the River of Light: The Life of Expression
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville, Reuter Center
One University Heights
Asheville, NC 28804

UNCA is just north of downtown Asheville, hotels in downtown or north of downtown are suggested.

Based his new book, Drinking from the River of Light, this Mark Nepo workshop will center on the lifelong process of listening, reflecting, and expressing, and on how bearing witness to the truth of living reveals the mysteries of life.

As no one can live without inhaling and exhaling, no one can live without feeling and expressing. The life of expression is how the heart breathes and how our spirit grows in the life that carries it. The life of feeling, dialogue, and writing, whatever form they take—poetry, story, memoir, or reflection—open us to a personal form of expression, a necessary conversation with the Universe that helps us move through obstacles and transitions. As meditation is an ancient art that deepens our relationship to how we breathe, writing and storytelling are ancient arts that deepen our relationship to all that matters. And just as the reward for practicing meditation is not that we’ll become great breathers but that we’ll become clear vessels of life-force, the reward for practicing a personal form of expression is not that we’ll become great writers or great storytellers but that such practice will help us be more resilient and wake closer to life.

In this Mark Nepo workshop, Mark will open a heart space through which participants can discover their own rhythms of expression. Through poetry, stories, and metaphors, Through reflection, journaling, and dialogue, each participant will have the chance to practice listening and expressing. We are constantly being shaped by life into finer instruments of care and expression. The deeper we go, the more attuned we become, and the more we join with everything around us. This workshop will help you to inhabit a personal form of expression, by which you can strengthen your connections and find your way.

Topics in this Mark Nepo workshop include “The Chord in Our Heart,” “What It Means to See,” “Bearing Witness,” “Unraveling the Self,” “Giving and Getting Attention,” “Breaking Surface,” “Understanding Practice,” and “Fitting Things Together.”

My hope for our time together is that we can touch into the miraculous depth of being that is always just below whatever we carry, and that you’ll return to your life having discovered and deepened a very personal form of expression that you can walk with in your days.

Bring a journal.

Mark Nepo is a Great Soul. His resonant heart—his frank and astonishing voice—befriend us mightily on this mysterious trail.
—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of You and Yours, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, and Red Suitcase

Mark Nepo is one of the finest spiritual guides of our time.
—Parker J. Palmer, author of A Hidden WholenessandThe Courage to Teach

Mark Nepo joins a long tradition of truth-seeking, wild-hearted poets—Rumi, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver—and deserves a place in the center of the circle with them.
—Elizabeth Lesser, Cofounder, Omega Institute, author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

Nepo is a consummate storyteller with a rare gift for making the invisible visible.
—Publishers Weekly

Mark Nepo is a poet and philosopher who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for forty years. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, he has published fourteen books and recorded eight audio projects. Recent work includes: Reduced to Joy (2013), Seven Thousand Ways to Listen which won the 2012 Books for a Better Life Award, Staying Awake (2012), Holding Nothing Back (2012), As Far As the Heart Can See (2011), Finding Inner Courage (2011),and Surviving Has Made Me Crazy (2007), as well as audio books of The Book of AwakeningFinding Inner Courage, and As Far As the Heart Can See (2011). As a cancer survivor, Mark devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship.

Mark Nepo has appeared with Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday program on OWN TV, and has been interviewed twice by Oprah as part of her SIRIUS XM Radio show, Soul Series. He has also been interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America about his New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening. As well, The Exquisite Risk (Harmony Books) was cited by Spirituality & Health Magazine as one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2005, calling it “one of the best books we’ve ever read on what it takes to live an authentic life.” Mark’s collected essays appear in Unlearning Back to God: Essays on Inwardness (Khaniqahi Nimatullahi Publications, 2006). He is also the editor of Deepening the American Dream: Reflections on the Inner Life and Spirit of Democracy (Jossey-Bass, 2005). Other books of poetry include Suite for the Living (2004), Inhabiting Wonder (2004), Acre of Light (1994, also available as an audiotape from Parabola under the title Inside the Miracle, 1996), Fire Without Witness (1988), and God, the Maker of the Bed, and the Painter (1988).

His work has been translated into twenty languages including French, Portuguese, Japanese, and Danish. In leading spiritual retreats, in working with healing and medical communities, and in his teaching as a poet, Mark’s work is widely accessible and used by many. He continues to offer readings, lectures, and retreats.

Mark Nepo has a doctorate in English. He taught for 18 years at the State University of New York in Albany, New York. In his 30s he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, a struggle which helped to form his philosophy of experiencing life fully while staying in relationship to an unknowable future.

Click here to for the complete Sophia Institute Calendar of Events.


Sep 13 – 14 2019


$179 (until Feb 28)
$229 (after Feb 28)


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville, Reuter Center
One University Heights, Asheville, NC 28804 United States

Hourly Schedule

Day 1

6:30 pm8:30 pm
Friday Night Lecture
9:30 am5:00 pm
Saturday Program