The Tree of Contemplative Practices

The Tree of Contemplative Practices illustrates some of the contemplative practices currently in use in secular organizational and academic settings. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list; the practices listed on the Tree were originally drawn from those mentioned by survey respondents during our 2001-2004 research project.

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

© The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Concept & design by Maia Duerr; illustration by Carrie Bergman


Understanding the Tree

On the Tree of Contemplative Practices, the roots symbolize the two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices: cultivating awareness and developing a stronger connection to God, the divine, or inner wisdom. The roots of the tree encompass and transcend differences in the religious traditions from which many of the practices originated, and allow room for the inclusion of new practices that are being created in secular contexts.

The branches represent the different groupings of practices. For example, Stillness Practices focus on quieting the mind and body in order to develop calmness and focus. Generative Practices come in many different forms (i.e. prayers, visualizations, chanting) but share the common intent of generating thoughts and feelings of devotion and compassion, rather than calming and quieting the mind. Please note that these classifications are not definitive. For example, mantra repetition may be considered a Stillness Practice rather than a Generative one.

Any activities not included on this Tree (including those which may seem more mundane, such as gardening, eating, or taking a bath) are a contemplative practice when done with the intent of cultivating awareness, or developing a stronger connection with God or one’s inner wisdom. We offer a free download of a blank Tree so that you can customize it and include your own practices.[/one_half]


Downloading and Reprinting the Tree

You may use the tree for personal and non-commercial purposes. For example, please feel free to use it to illustrate an academic paper, post it on your blog, or display it in your organization’s meditation room. The Tree of Contemplative Practices is a copyrighted image. Commercial use, including derivative work, is not permitted.

If the tree is published or presented in non-commercial use, you must mention The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society as the copyright holder of the image (the downloadable files, below, already contain this information as part of the image).

Please contact us at if you have questions regarding the use of the tree, or if you would like to share with us how you have used it in your work.
Thank you!

For printingDownload a 2 MB, 8″ x 8″ .jpg image of the Tree of Contemplative Practices

For low-resolution useDownload a 120 KB, 800 x 830 pixel .jpg image of the Tree of Contemplative Practices


A Blank Tree for Your Own Practices

Here’s a version of the Tree with the practice and branch names removed, so you can fill it in however you wish.

For printingDownload a 650 KB, 8″ x 10″ .jpg image of the blank Tree of Contemplative Practices (the original design)[/one_half_last]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.