What are Contemplative Practices?

The core purpose of this site, my writing and teaching is to help overstretched working adults gain focus, vitality, and purpose in their spiritual journey, and ultimately to help them move toward wholeness and spiritual maturity.

contemplation

One of the most direct ways of helping people along these lines is simply to share some of the practices I’ve gathered over the years, in studying the Christian mystics and contemporary teachers. More importantly, I’ve experienced the benefit of increased awareness and peace brought about by these simple exercises. I compiled these practices in a simple, structured format in A Little eBook of Contemplative Practices.

Contemplative practice, whether it goes by the name of mindfulness, heartfulness, meditation, or Centering Prayer, has the same goal at heart: moving toward wholeness.

How does that happen?

In staying engaged with these exercises over time we create a little space of awareness within. We see our thoughts and emotions every day for a little bit, as if from an objective point of view. We don’t judge, attach our commentary, or criticize. And if we do, we can let that go, too.

Gradually, we become more and more aware that most of our problems, if not all of them, have their root cause in our minds, in our wounds, our fears, and the mental concepts we use to make sense of the world. Creating even a little awareness helps us let go of the issues that keep us stuck. If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, depression, or settled for a mediocre life, you know what I’m talking about.

Over time, we learn we can certainly make use to these concepts, but we don’t need to let our lives be controlled by them. Contemplative practice provides a little interruption in our daily stream of thought. If we harbor the illusion we are our thoughts, or any of the other labels we’re used to applying to ourselves, these practices can help. In fact, Bill Wilson’s AA program includes a prayer/meditation practice as the 11th step. Spiritual Teacher and Franciscan monk Richard Rohr has called 12 step the greatest American contribution to spirituality in the 20th century.

Ultimately, though, all a teacher or spiritual director, or a teaching can do is help point the way. It’s each of us individually that has to put one foot in front of the other. What will your path be? I’m convinced that whatever it is, contemplative practices can help you become the fullest possible expression of yourself along the way.

Click here for the eBook.

Question: What form of contemplative practice have you engaged in and how have you benefited? Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter

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