The Contemplative Practitioner: Meditation in Education and the Professions

The Contemplative Practitioner: Meditation in Education and the Professions

The Contemplative Practitioner: Meditation in Education and the Professions

The Contemplative Practitioner: Meditation in Education and the Professions

Synopsis

By practicing different types of meditation, teachers, students, or employees can gain personal strength and character. Miller describes the techniques of meditation taught in the great world religions and shows how they can be adapted to student and professional life. He describes the lives of five great contemplatives--Buddha, St. Teresa, Merton, Gandhi, and Emerson--and relates their spiritual practices, doubts and tests to the individual growth of ordinary students and citizens.

Excerpt

Donald Schon's concept of reflective practice has become an important part of current dialogue regarding professional development. His work has encouraged people to move away from mechanistic approaches to their work to the use of intuition and reflection in improving their practices. As valuable as this work is, I believe there is something missing in Schon's approach. Simply put, reflection is still rooted in a dualistic view of reality in that there is a subject that reflects on an object. If we stay with a dualistic view of reality, we ultimately end up with a fragmented and compartmentalized approach to life. Yes, there is a need for analysis and reflection, but there is also a need for synthesis and contemplation. Contemplation is characterized by a merging of subject and object. As I contemplate a sunset or a flower, separateness disappears and for a moment I can become the object I contemplate. Duality disappears. Contemplation is based on the notion of a deeply interconnected reality as described in subatomic physics and ecology. It is through contemplation that we can see, or envision, the Whole. In reflection we are still limited to focusing on the part. Of course, we need to be able to see the part and the whole, but our world, particularly the Western world, has focused mostly on the part. Through contemplation there is the opportunity to restore a balance between part and whole.

Through contemplation we are also able to tap a deeper energy that can bring joy and purpose to our work. By being more attentive to the smallest detail, which is the essence of contemplation, we experience time and space differently. We move into what Csikszentmihalyi calls the flow experience where we merge with what we are doing. Artists and athletes frequently report on the flow experience. However, I believe this heightened state should not be limited to certain artists and athletes, but is available to any professional through contemplation. The thesis of this . . .

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