What are Contemplative Practices?
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 everyday life. This state of calm centeredness is an aid to 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.
Contemplative practices are widely varied; for an illustration of just some of the many types of practices, please see the “Tree of Contemplative Practices” on this website. 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.
The Tree of Contemplative Practices
The Tree illustrates some of the contemplative practices currently in use in secular, organizational and academic settings. Learn more.