Contemplative Practices Program
A Rehabilitation and Re-entry Program for Inmates
Traditionally, contemplative practices include prayer, meditation, study, reflection and group practice. All of the major spiritual traditions in the world have contemplative practices at the core of their teaching, however, the greater emphasis on meditation and insight practices are commonly associated with Eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Due in part to the greater understanding and accessibility in the last 100 years, contemplative practices are gaining acceptance in Western faith groups. Schools and universities have recently begun to incorporate contemplative practices in traditionally academic courses in recognition of enhanced level of learning and comprehension that results. The emphasis on personal growth and maturity associated with contemplative practices has deepened an appreciation for the value that traditional spiritual practices can have in our life.
Meditation is at the core of all spiritual practice because it allows us to gain deeper insight into the nature of the conditioned mind. Greater peace-of-mind is possible when we have an understanding of, and ability to work with conditioned thoughts and feelings that are negative and potentially harmful. Once recognized, conditioned negative reactive attitudes diminish in their power to drive harmful and destructive behaviors.
Hand in hand with meditation is ethical self-discipline, the ability to make better choices about taking appropriate action. By understanding the difficulties caused by conditioned attitudes, it’s possible to recognize the implication our actions will have on ourselves, and others.
Through contemplative study and practice we gain a more inclusive view of ourselves, and our part in whatever we are experiencing. Such insights effectively break the shame/blame cycle that undermines empathy, the ability to recognize that others suffer exactly as we do. No longer feeling himself or herself a victim, the individual is less inclined to victimize others.