What are contemplative practices?

“It's not about right belief; it's about right practice.”—Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest & modern-day mystic

“Whoever is wakeful, mindful, alert, centered, sensitive, calm and clear, rightly exploring Truth, will, at once, shatter the darkness. So be devoted to wakefulness - and you will realize right here - a self-awakening unsurpassed.”—Buddha

Seeking unity consciousness is like jumping from one wave of experience to another in search of water. And that is why “there is neither path nor achievement.” ... We are not really searching for the answer we are fleeing it. . . . And so we arrive at an essential point of the major mystical traditions, namely, that special conditions are appropriate (but not necessary) for the actualization of unity consciousness. And further, these conditions do not lead to unity consciousness - they are themselves an expression of unity consciousness. ... Even if, in our spiritual practice it appears we are trying to attain enlightenment, we are actually only expressing it.... Thus by all accounts, our spiritual practice is itself already the goal.

Spiritual practice forces this fundamental resistance to surface in our awareness. We begin to see that we don’t really want unity consciousness, but that we are always avoiding it. But that itself is the crucial insight, just as the understanding of our resistances on every other level was the pivotal insight. To see our resistance to unity consciousness is to be able, for the first time, to deal with it and finally drop it - thus removing the secret obstacle to our own liberation.
— Ken Wilber, No Boundary


Contemplative practices are diverse. The ones I practice and teach on a regular basis come from the Christian contemplative tradition. They are Centering Prayer and Welcoming Prayer. I approach Centering Prayer from the viewpoint that this practice helps me to "die daily” to my identification with the limited, egoic self and to open my heart to an experience of my divine nature. For me, Welcoming Prayer supports presence in that it helps me to embrace whatever experience is happening in the moment. These practices, which are a kind of “spiritual surrender,” have, over the years, transformed my heart, life, and the lives of those around me.

During retreats and in classes, I also do guided Loving-Kindness and heart-based meditation practices, as well as lead labyrinth walks and other forms of embodied spiritual practices. It is important to me that you find the practice that is right for you.

Rev. Nhien

© The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society Concept & design by    Maia Duerr   ; illustration by Carrie Bergman

© The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Concept & design by
Maia Duerr; illustration by Carrie Bergman