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
- 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
- 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.