This site is intended as a resource to help people connect more deeply to life through practical, meditative, or prayerful experiences. Many of us recognize, at some point on life’s journey, that we are still just living on the surface of what life has to offer. We feel we have not found (or lost) something of what it is to really live, and we feel a growing desire to enhance our awareness and capacity to live more deeply connected to the essence of life.
This is intended to be a space where anyone can discover, explore, grow and find support for any inclination towards deep listening, meditation, or contemplation, and is intended to nourish our desire to live into the wonder of life. The resources here are drawn from the wisdom and practices of many of our ancient secular, spiritual, and religious traditions as well as our more contemporary social movements towards contemplation. Contemplative resources are wide-spread and there are a large verity of starting places to support anyone’s desire to grow and deepen into a contemplative way of life.
This site is all about growing awareness. The fullness of living begins with awareness, that if pursued, leads into a deeper kind of listening and experience.
Thinking about life is one step removed from experiencing life. Continually turning towards our thoughts about life contributes to a life lived on the surface. Living in a thought filled world is one of the modern day pitfalls of the information age. It can be a distraction and deterrent from living a more whole-person, embodied, heart-and-soul experience of life.
This site is intended to be big on whole-person experience and short on conceptualizing. Even though this particular page is more about information, definitions, and concepts, don’t stop there. We invite you to participate, practice, listen and learn from life with your whole being and we encourage you to resist the temptation to just scan this site for new concepts, ideas or insights. Don’t miss the opportunity to listen deeply to what stirs inside of you.
May this be a space of few words and many experiences.
And yet, here are a few concepts and definitions to guide your experience.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes. Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it.”
This description of mindfulness has been taken from mindfulness.org. You can learn more about mindfulness at mindfulness.org
John Gabat-Zinn was instrumental is shaping the scientific credibility and social consciousness of Mindfulness in the west. He developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction practice and treatment. You can learn more about MBSR at mbsrtraining.com. His working definition of Mindful meditation is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” – John Gabat-Zinn
Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention for a period of time. There are many different types of meditation practices which may differ in method but are mostly distinguished by the object or objective of the focus of the meditation.
Some of the most practiced mediation types are: calming, relaxing, focused attention, noticing, resting awareness, breathing, body scan, mantra, scripture, compassion, gratitude, reflection, visualization, imagination, savoring, transcendental, God, union with God, oneness and more.
The meditation methods can also differ. There are meditations for sitting, standing, lying down, walking, yoga, stretching, poses, postures, sound bathing, nature bathing, pilgrimage, drawing, art, dance, doodling, wandering, praying and more.
There are two distinctly different understands of contemplation. One secular and the other religious. The secular understanding of contemplation is understood to mean “thinking deeply about something.” However its Latin roots give evidence of a more religious beginning: con (with) temp (temple) means “to be with God, in the temple.” Spiritual or religious contemplation is meditation towards spiritual or religious awareness and understanding, towards connection or communion with spirit or God, or towards an awareness of all things sacred.
Mysticism and Mystical Experience
“The world’s mystics, across time and from each religious tradition, have taken a journey which ultimately leads from the surface of consciousness to the Source of consciousness, and from selfhood to selflessness. This journey to the Source – to God, the Godhead, Brahman, Dharmakaya, Void/Emptiness, Original Nature, Purusa, Pure Consciousness, Oneness/Unity, Eyn Sof, Al-Haqq, Tao, Ground of Being – is spoken of as life-giving, transformative, and even as the ultimate goal of individual existence. While various scriptures, theologies, rituals, and traditions can color an adherent’s understanding of the spiritual life in unique ways, the mystics insist that it is this experiential connection which can truly transform a human being.” – quoted from thecontemplativelife.org
We hope that you will not settle for an occasional contemplative experience here and there, but that you would work towards developing your own contemplative rhythm or way of life. The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society developed The Tree of Contemplative Practice to illustrate the breadth and variety of contemplative practice that one can integrate into their life. The image below is labeled with examples and a downloadable version is free of labels so that you could us it as a tool to help you develop your own lifestyle and rhythm of contemplative living. May your personal tree of contemplation have many branches to expand your life.