About 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 innumerable types of practices, please see the Tree of Contemplative Practices. They come from traditions all over the world. Examples of contemplative practices include various forms of movement and dance, ritual, meditation and focused thought, time in nature, reflective writing, deep listening, dialogue, storytelling, and arts.

Some people find that active, physical practices, like dance, martial arts, yoga, or lifting weights, work best for them. Others find nourishment in still and silent practices, like mindfulness meditation or sitting in nature. 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, and inspire your sense of meaning and purpose.

Why do Practices Matter?

Transforming Your Relationship With Yourself

Generating an overall sense of calm and well-being

Managing your stress and its impact on your body

Deepening your self-understanding

Sharpening your focus, concentration, and insight

Understanding and upholding your core values in your personal and professional life

Improving Your Relationships With Others

Enabling greater compassion and wisdom

Helping you to see conflicts from different angles, opening up creative possibilities for problem-solving and resolving disagreement

Improving listening and communication skills

Enriching Your Relationship With the World Around You

Increase global awareness

Increase appreciation for the interconnection of all life

Developing the ability to inquire, adapt to rapid change, and deal with complexity

Looking for ideas?

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

The Tree illustrates some of the contemplative practices currently in use in secular, organizational and academic settings. If you're looking to expand your idea of what contemplative practice is, explore its branches. You might come across something you're already doing!