Contemplative Practice? What is it anyway?
According to Jared Kass, Ph. D. Director of the Institute for Contemplative Education, “contemplative practice is an experiential mode of learning and self-inquiry.” While according to studenthealth.missouri.edu on Stress Management, “contemplative practices are practical and transformative which allow for the development of skills for quieting the mind in the midst of our hectic lives.”
According to Jared Kass, there are two major types of contemplative practice:
(1) Contemplation of behavior.
This is the type wherein contemplative practice teaches us to examine and change destructive forms of behavior. When stressed out, angry, or afraid, we tend to act on impulse, more often in ways that harm others or in which we will regret later on. On such times, contemplative practices can be a resource to regulate destructive emotions, make thoughtful decisions, develop a more focused mind, and deepen inner peace.
(2) Elevation of awareness.
The second type is about using meditation, prayer, the arts, and observation of the natural world (and many other techniques) that can help us restore our ability to rise above our anxieties, and to perceive life’s mystery and beauty. Contemplative practice can become a vehicle for a deeper relationship with God.
More research into contemplative practices revealed that the fields of psychology, medicine, and education have already recognized that contemplative practice can contribute to well-being and maturation, as Jared Kass said. Even business industries already recognize the use of contemplative practices as good leadership skills.
An article Sophie Lambin published on LinkedIn entitled “Changing Minds – Unlocking Leadership Through Contemplative Practices” tells about the benefits of contemplative practices and how leaders can unlock their potential for themselves, their employees and ultimately for the performance of their companies.
Contemplative practices can open for us a wider venue that can help us develop greater empathy and communication skills, improve our focus and attention, reduce stress and enhance creativity, supporting a loving and compassionate approach to life (www.contemplativemind.org/practices).
A few minutes is all what it takes to set a different mindset each day. If only we can start the day right in that just few minutes by meditating or making use of other contemplative practices (yoga, tai chi, even writing), we can already make a world of difference in how we react on certain situations that assail us in our daily lives.
It only takes a few seconds to completely destroy our day but with a positive mindset at the start, our reaction to any situation is quite different than when we let our emotions run wild.
A calmer disposition at any given stressful occasion is worth striving for than taking medication pills for high blood pressure. As Bill George, a Harvard Business School Professor, said, it’s a choice between “meditation or medication.”
How about you? What is your choice?