Joni Winston's Generosity Lifts the Emory-Tibet Partnership
Joni Winston had just begun a meditation practice in 2007 when she saw that the Dalai Lama would be visiting Emory University. She lives in Druid Hills, only a few streets away from campus. This “perfect confluence” of events eventually led to her planned gift.
“I’m not an alumna or Buddhist, but I am kind of a science nerd, and I read an article about Emory research findings being presented to the Dalai Lama,” she says. “I was curious about that. Those findings showed that the people who practiced meditation the most, benefited the most. I thought, ‘Why not meditate more often?’”
She became involved in the Emory-Tibet Partnership (ETP), which brings together the best of the Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions for their mutual enrichment and for the discovery of new knowledge. Winston’s planned gift will expand ETP’s work, which aligns with her life goals: bringing contemplative practices to the educational system and supporting efforts to make meditation more mainstream so more people practice daily.
“I’m excited to get behind Emory University, because it can do a lot of things,” Winston says. “We as Westerners are really good at seeing ourselves as separate collections of cells and atoms and understanding through science how that works. The Tibetans have developed their inner world, mindfulness and the skills of gratitude and compassion. Emory gives validation to the belief that by working together, we see that the benefits of both types of knowledge increase exponentially.”
Winston completed a signature ETP program, Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), and became certified to teach CBCT. The more she explored and benefited personally, the more she wanted to support the partnership financially.
In 2013, she made a significant 10-year pledge that allowed ETP to commit to strategic programming and educational initiatives. Her planned gift will allow Emory to further expand the work of the partnership, including offering CBCT in schools.
“I remember when I first dabbled in meditation, thinking that this would be so important to start young and to offer it in the education system,” she says. “I have a child with ADD and dyslexia, so education is a struggle. By learning compassion, peacefulness and forgiveness, anyone can benefit, no matter their age or what profession or job they are in.”
Today, Winston acknowledges that most people will not take an hour to meditate each day, even though the return on investment is immense.
“I get more than an hour back,” she says. “I need less sleep, I am more rested, and I wake up more refreshed. Less stress, anxiety and wasting time, has improved the quality of my dreams and increased my peace of mind. I’m more centered during the day. I’ve always been pretty healthy, and now in my 60s, I don’t take medication. Isn’t joy and bliss worth 10 minutes a day?”
A planned gift assures that this important work continues after her life ends. The partnership also facilitates Emory College’s academic and cultural exchange programs and assists with related academic courses in Tibetan Buddhism, meditation, and psychology, as well as the language and culture of Tibet.
“I take my role as a donor seriously,” she says. “It’s not just about writing a check, which takes little time and effort, or about a tax deduction. I want to be very intentional about giving, and I want a lot of bang for the buck. I want my time, energy and money to help create a seismic shift in fundamental thinking. For me, a planned gift to the Emory-Tibet Partnership scores off the chart because it’s an opportunity to change the world, to make it more peaceful and to make people happier.”