We are often asked questions about the nature of our work, whether we provide funding for projects or organizations, or even the terminology we use on our website. Hopefully this section will help! If you don’t see a question answered here, or if the answer given is not clear, feel free to contact us.
What are contemplative practices?
Contemplative practices are widely varied. For an illustration of some of the many types of practices, please see the “Tree of Contemplative Practices” on this website. They come from traditions all over the world. They all cultivate a critical, first-person focus, sometimes with direct experience as the object, while at other times concentrating on complex ideas or situations. They allow placing ourselves at the heart of our professional lives and for our students to find themselves in the heart of their own education.
Contemplative methods incorporated into daily life act as a reminder to connect to what we find most meaningful, and can help us quiet our minds in the midst of action and distraction. Recent research has supported claims that contemplative practices can develop capacities for deep concentration, develop greater empathy and communication skills, improve focus and attention, reduce stress and enhance creativity.
Contemplative practices come in many forms. Examples of contemplative practices include various forms of meditation, focused thought, time in nature, writing, contemplative arts, and contemplative movement. These and other practices may be explored more deeply at our contemplative practices webpages.
What is the difference between meditation and contemplation?
We use the word “contemplation” as the broad category of first-person practices. Meditation is but among many of those practices. Please see our contemplative practices webpages for more.
Is the Center a religious organization?
No, we are a secular non-profit organization. We are not affiliated with any particular religion, and we encourage individuals to find their own personal connection to religious, spiritual and/or secular wisdom traditions and contemplative practices.
Can the Center assist me in funding my organization or event?
We occasionally may offer fellowships or grants (check our list of current initiatives), but in general, no, sorry, we cannot. In the past, the Contemplative Practice Fellowship Program provided faculty members with funding for curriculum development and study of contemplative practices and traditions at colleges and universities.
Can I reserve retreat time at the Center or visit the Center?
No, we are not a residential retreat or meditation center, and we do not hold events at our small office here in Northampton, MA. Our retreats and workshops are held at carefully chosen locations around the nation. We do not encourage casual visitors because we are, very simply, just a small, ordinary office–not much to see!
What resources would you recommend for learning more about contemplative practices?
We suggest that you visit the section of this site devoted to contemplative practices. However, that information is intended to start you on your journey; we are not staffed by teachers and cannot give anyone individualized attention. If you have deeper questions than our information provides, or if you need personal guidance with your practice, it may be helpful to locate a qualified teacher or spiritual advisor whom you trust, and consider attending a group retreat.