Work and Volunteering
Vigils and Marches
Music and Singing
Ceremonies and Rituals based in Spiritual or Cultural Traditions
Establishing a Sacred/Personal Space
Quieting the Mind
Understanding the Tree
On the Tree of Contemplative Practices, the roots symbolize the two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices. 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 different groupings of practices. For example, Stillness Practices focus on quieting the mind and body in order to develop calmness and focus. Generative Practices may come in many different forms but share the common intent of generating thoughts and feelings, such as thoughts of devotion and compassion, rather than calming and quieting the mind. (Please note that such classifications are not definitive, and many practices could be included in more than one category.)
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; 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.