What if the “new religion” we seek has in fact been hiding in plain sight all along, waiting to be realized? The contemplative life is vast and represents a form of spirituality that embraces the diversity of our human family. The religious don’t need to trade their religion. The secular don’t need to adopt a religion. The “spiritual but not religious” feel right at home.
Everyone is contemplative. Contemplative experience is fundamental to the human condition. Not everyone, however, recognizes their contemplative experiences as such and not everyone has discovered the wonders of the inner life.
Transformative practices exist for the mind, body and emotions and are as diverse as the human family. Some are grounded in ancient traditions, others emerging from the contemporary mindfulness movement.
I have witnessed the transformative effects of contemplative practice in my own life and in my work with children, teenagers, adults, executives, university settings, prisons and hospices. Deep and sustained practice can increase consciousness, awaken compassion, and heal individuals and communities. While the person practicing benefits, so does their family, friends and co-workers. The magnification of goodwill is staggering.
When we observe our world with open minds and hearts we see the truth of our common ground. All of the Great Spiritual Traditions share a contemplative dimension that includes practices such as mediation, prayer, ritual, movement, song and silence. The “moment of silence” is an example of a universal contemplative practice, which transcends language, culture and evoking a sense of oneness and humility.
We are at the cusp of a contemplative renaissance, a time where spirituality and science will again work as partners in the exploration of our inner and outer worlds. Living a contemplative life can serve as the “tide that lifts all boats.” Let’s take our world back the quiet way.