Especially in this information age, many of us have recognized the need to hit the pause button because something isn’t right. We can feel the anxiousness and agitation building up inside of us every time we reach for our phone, but we struggle to reach calm, to find rest, to find our center, and the center of well-being.
There are a variety of ways people have pursued that path to well-being. There are a number of modern-day movements and ancient traditions that have come to understand something about the journey, and they can serve as guides to us, because many of us have atrophied our contemplative muscles and we need to cultivate those capacities again in order to find our way.
Some of us may argue for their “one only” or “best” way to well-being, and we do not disagree with that notion or the possibility of “one” or “best” way, but this site seeks to show that many movements and traditions have something to contribute to help us find our way. Every major religion has a contemplative core based in its own ancient traditions. Christianity has its monastic traditions informed by Christian mystics. The mystic orders of Islam came to be known as Sufism with its love oriented practices. Buddist monks have practice meditation for centuries in search of enlightenment. Hindu gurus have invited us to the way of presence since before any of these other religious orders found their broader identity. Indigenous people groups around the world have trusted the ways of the land, nature, their ancestors, spiritual gurus, wisdom teachers and shamans; and our modern secularized cultures have felt and scientifically studied the psychological benefits of mindfulness, meditation, prayer, presence, compassion, and gratitude.
These diverse resources for contemplative living are drawn from a variety of religious and secular belief systems. Some contemplative practitioners may prefer to remain within their religious or secular tradition and the language that resonates with their being, while others my benefit from exploring and learning from the ways of others. These resources are organized for both preferences.
The following gives you a taste of the rich and diverse contemplative orientations that come from some of our most prominent scientific research, spiritual leaders, and religious traditions.
We hope you enjoy your exploration of these resources.
Samples of contemplative wisdom taught from different traditions
“People who practice mindfulness say it fundamentally changes how they experience life. For the past 40 years, researchers have been attempting to explain this in biological terms. Studies reveal that mindfulness may reduce anxiety and depression, boost your immune system, help you manage pain, allow you to unhook from unhealthy habits and addictions, soothe insomnia, reduce high blood pressure, and even change the structure and function of your brain in positive ways—perhaps in as little as 8 weeks of practice.” – From The Science of Mindfulness – Mindful
“So long as the sense of “me” and “mine” remains, there is bound to be sorrow and want in the life of the individual.” – Anandamayi Ma
“Tao (the Way) that can be described is not the eternal Way. The name that can be spoken is not the true Name. The unnamable is the eternal, essential real. Naming is the origin of all particular, manifested things. A mind free of thought, complete within itself, beholds the essence of Tao. A mind filled with thought, identified with its own perceptions, beholds the mere shape of things. Yet both minds come from the same source. A mystery of mysteries and the gateway to awareness of true Being.” – from the Tao Te Ching
“Seeing your nature is zen. Unless you see your nature, it’s not zen.”“To find a buddha, you have to see your nature. Whoever sees his nature is a buddha.” – from Bodhidharma and original teachings of Zen
“After hearing the teaching ‘You should activate your mind without dwelling on anything,’ in meditation I had the overwhelming realization that all things are not apart from inherent nature. I then said to the Grand Master, ‘Who would have expected inherent nature to be intrinsically pure? Who would have expected that inherent nature is originally unborn and undying? Who would have expected that inherent nature is originally complete in itself?’…” – Grand Master Hui Neng
“I and the Father are one. One day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” – Jesus
“there is nothing in the world that resembles God so much as stillness.” – Meister Eckhart
“He is the spirit of the Cosmos, its hearing, its sight, and its hand. Through Him the cosmos hears, through Him it sees, through Him it speaks, through Him it grasps, through Him it returns.” – Ibn ‘Arabi
Native American Spirituality
Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all that lives as your brother and sister. – Native wisdom
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals. The third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace is within the souls of men.” – Black Elk, Oglala Sioux
“Celtic mysticism recognizes that rather than trying to expose the soul or offer it our fragile care, we should let the soul find us and care for us.” – John O’Donohue