CMind Contemplative Tree

Contemplative practices vary and emerge from diverse traditions. As disciplines of body and mind, they share a number of features:

  • cultivation of self-awareness
  • specific physical posture(s) or sequence of movement
  • focused, non-evaluative attention
  • a holistic approach to well-being
  • development of mental and physical steadiness and balance
  • fostering greater attunement, compassion, and creativity

Contemplative practices have figured prominently in religious, philosophical, and humanistic traditions since antiquity. The boundary that defines what falls within the category of contemplative practices is somewhat hazy, but from a general perspective, we can say that this form of training emphasizes self-awareness, self-regulation, and/or self-inquiry to enact a process of psychological transformation. These practices thus involve some form of mental training, even when they also involve physical movement or dialogue-based exercises. Although contextualized differently among the traditions that use them, contemplative practices are typically viewed as practical methods to bring about a state of enduring well-being or inner flourishing.

- Davidson, R. J., Dahl, C. J. (2016). Varieties of Contemplative Practice. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3469.

Image by Maia Duerr and Carrie Bergman, courtesy of CMind, the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (, used with permission. 
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