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This reflective article is inspired by excerpts of the author’s personal journal. The author experienced 12 years of higher learning in both public and private institutions of higher education. She often reflects on her higher education experiences as a first-generation, working-class, multiracial, woman, and the first in her family to speak English as a first language. During her academic journey, she found it challenging to integrate her cultural background with traditional narratives based on Eurocentric values in higher education culture. Her lived experience inspires the promotion of a more holistic approach to teaching and learning, raising awareness of cultural differences that may impact learning goals, including the mental health and academic success of all adult learners. The purposes of this reflective article are to: (a) Illustrate the landscape of United States higher education; (b) Review perspectives of lifespan theory, principles, and research to identify sources of cultural conflict during adulthood; (c) Explain a contemplative approach to higher education; and (d) Introduce contemplative practice to support meaningful forms of adult learning via mindfulness, self-compassion, and active listening strategies.

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