What are Contemplative Practices, and how do they work?
Contemplative Practices cultivate a critical, first-person focus, sometimes with direct experience as the object, while at other times concentrating on complex ideas or situations. Incorporated into daily life, they act as a reminder to connect to what we find most meaningful.
Contemplative practices are practical, radical, and transformative, developing capacities for deep concentration and quieting the mind in the midst of the action and distraction that fills the everyday life.
This state of calm centeredness is an aid to the exploration of meaning, purpose, and values.
Contemplative practices can help develop greater empathy and communication skills, improve focus and attention, reduce stress and enhance creativity, supporting a loving and compassionate approach to life.
The primordial ‘sounds of silence’ cannot be over-emphasized ~ whether it is in deep meditation; a retreat of silence; simple time alone; the space between one’s thoughts; allowing quiet after someone has spoken to allow their sharing to be really felt and heard; sensing the soft stillness of nature or the hum of the cosmos.
You can touch upon this profound and important element. It is where and when you feel, sense, and silently hear Source within yourself and outside of yourself ~ all reflected in the beauty and the mystery of nature, others, all of life, and the entire cosmos.
Contemplative practices are widely varied; for an illustration of just some of the many types of practices, please see the “Tree of Contemplative Practices” for more information. They come in many forms, from traditions all over the world.
Examples of contemplative practices include various forms of meditation, focused thought, time in nature, writing, contemplative arts, and contemplative movement.
Some people find that active, physical practices, like yoga or tai chi, work best for them. Others find nourishment in still and silent practices, like mindfulness meditation. Some people find that rituals rooted in a religious or cultural tradition soothe their soul.
And not all practices are done in solitude–groups and communities can engage in practices that support reflection in a social context.
We encourage you to discover for yourself how contemplative practice, in whatever form is best for you, can enrich your life and work.