What is Contemplative Practice?

Contemplative practice is an experiential mode of learning and self-inquiry.

Historically, contemplative practice has been taught by the world's spiritual traditions. However, in the last three decades, the fields of psychology, medicine, and education have recognized that contemplative practice can contribute to well-being and maturation. As a result, health professionals and educators have been teaching contemplative practices in 'non-religious forms' that can be used as a resource for resilience by agnostics and atheists, as well as by people with a spiritual or religious worldview.

  • For an atheist or agnostic, contemplative practice can be a resource to regulate destructive emotions, make thoughtful decisions, develop a more focused mind, and deepen inner peace.
  • In addition, for a person with a spiritual or religious worldview, contemplative practice can become a vehicle for a deeper relationship with God.

There are two major types of contemplative practice:

  • Contemplation of behavior: When stressed out, angry, or afraid, we tend to become reactive. In such moments, we often act impulsively, in ways that harm ourselves or others. Contemplative practice teaches us to examine and change these destructive forms of behavior.
  • Elevation of awareness: The stress of daily life is like a sticky spider's web. It ensnares us. It prevents us from experiencing the beauty that surrounds us, our capacity for love and compassion, and the presence of a transcendent dimension in life. Through meditation, prayer, the arts, and observation of the natural world (and many other techniques), contemplative practice can help us restore our ability to rise above our anxieties, and to perceive life's mystery and beauty.

As psychology, medicine, and education have begun to acknowledge the spiritual roots of contemplative practice, they have started to re-build important bridges to the spiritual traditions. These bridges can support appropriate boundaries between religion and our public institutions, while recognizing the important role that spiritual maturation can play in the well-being of individuals and society.

As a leader in this field, Dr. Jared Kass has been teaching contemplative practice to individuals from a diverse background of belief systems and faith traditions. His classes are attended by secular humanists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of many other spiritual traditions.

Dr. Kass recognizes that each of these belief systems has integrity and value, when it is used as a method for inner development and maturation. He enjoys working with 'multifaith learning communities' where individuals from very different belief systems can learn together - and learn to value each other as human beings.