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Contemplative Pedagogy: Principles, Design


Contemplative Pedagogy: Principles, Design & Practice Arthur Zajonc President, Mind & Life Institute Emeritus Physics, Amherst College Summer 2012 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Contemplative Pedagogy: Principles, Design

Contemplative Pedagogy Principles, Design
  • Arthur Zajonc
  • President, Mind Life Institute
  • Emeritus Physics, Amherst College
  • Summer 2012

Contemplative Pedagogy An Overview
  • Contemporary situation
  • The structure of a contemplative curriculum
  • Rationale and design principles
  • General practices that support learning.
  • Integration of contemplation into the
  • Enlarging our view of knowing contemplative
    inquiry and insight

Where do you suppose this is?
Harvard Business SchoolMeeting 3 of Working
Group on Contemplative Dimensions of Leadership
and Leadership Education
Jon with Diana Chapman Walsh, President Emerita
of Wellesley College
My Center organized a mini-retreat May 2011 Jon
Kabat Zinn
Meeting 2 at the Sackler Art Museum, Harvard
Daniel Goleman, Metta McGarvey, Jerome Murphy,
Saki Santorelli. Back row seated Otto Scharmer,
Grady McGonagill, William Torbert, Deborah
Ancona, Rebecca Henderson. Standing, left to
right Ronald Heifetz, Ray Williams, Arthur
Zajonc, Janice Marturano, Tamar Miller, Jon Kabat
Zinn, Mirabai Bush, Elinor Pierce
Googles Search Inside Yourself
  • Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
  • Mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence
  • Developed at HQ and now offered worldwide.

The situation today
  • More that 158 Contemplative Practice Fellows
    teaching individual courses and initiating
    programs. (See Barbara Craig report)
  • Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher
    Education, with 800 members.
  • Conferences
  • Amherst, Columbia, UMass, Wellesley, AACU,

Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher
  • Conferences
  • Summer session
  • Retreats
  • Fellowships
  • E-newsletter
  • Webinars
  • Social Networking
  • Online resources

ACMHE ConferenceSeptember 21-23 at Amherst
CollegeContemplative Approaches in the Diverse
Academic Community Inquiry, Connection,
Creativity, and Insight
Contemplative Retreat for Educators
  • October 18-21 at the Garrison Institute
  • About 40 academics who seek to deepen their
    practice in the company of others
  • Mindfulness, metta, contemplative inquiry,
  • Mirabai Bush, Paul
  • Wapner

Day of Mindfulness at Amherst College
Israel Contemplative Education Project
  • Teach for Israel
  • University of Haifa all eight Schools of
  • February contemplative curriculum development

Preventing conflicts is the work of politics
establishing peace is the work of education.
Maria Montessori
The Parting Where to Place Contemplation?
  • In Reformation natural philosophy and spiritual
    life parted company.
  • Neo-Orthodoxy from Luther to Barth, and the NOMA
    of Gould.
  • Contemplative practice was assigned to the
    religion only.
  • Redrawing the map balancing analysis with
    contemplative inquiry.

Rationale for a Contemplative Pedagogy
  • Supports and develops attention, emotional
    balance of benefit to students, faculty, staff.
  • Can become a mode of inquiry leading to insight.
  • Cultivation of empathy, altruism and compassion
    (Stanfords CCARE research program)
  • Offers a valuable, complementary, experiential
    modality of engagement with texts, natural
    phenomena, the arts, other cultures,
  • Early research supports CP (More needed!)

  • Research talk by Willoughby Britton on Schools,
    clinics and monasteries promises and perils of
    contemplative training
  • Bibliography handout on research.
  • One revealing example

Pascual-Leone (1996) Harvard
Average cortical output maps for the finger
flexors of the trained hand in subjects
undergoing daily physical versus mental practice
of the 5-finger exercise. Note the similarity in
output maps with either form of practice.
Uses of Contemplation in Higher Education
  • General Practices in Support of Student Learning
  • Cultivation of Equanimity and Attention
  • Cultivate Emotional Balance and Empathic
  • Sustaining Complexity and Contradiction
  • Contemplative Practices and the Disciplines
  • Each discipline is developing its own particular
    set of practices that are of special value. (See
    CMind reports on Arts and Philosophy/Psychology/Re
    ligion mtgs.)

Course Design Principles
  • Context who are you teaching, what is the course
  • Intention what are the pedagogical aims?
  • Practice give rationale for selection, clear
    instruction, opportunity for questions, gently
  • Process the practice
  • Journaling
  • Talk in pairs
  • Class conversation

  • Jodie Ziegler, Holy Cross
  • Joel Upton, Amherst
  • Amy Cheng, SUNY New Paltz

Deep ListeningCome home to your heart and
listen deeply for others who look for you there.
MR OReilly
  • U Houston, Psychology, Contemplative Practice in
    Psychotherapy, Linda Bell, listening from
    viewpoint of therapist and client.
  • U St Thomas, English, Mary Rose OReilly,
    Contemplative Spirituality of Environmental
    Writing. Listening with deep openhearted
    attention instead of looking for flaw in the

Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness
Economics, Amherst College
  • The course will also include opportunities for
    students to examine their own consumption
    decisions and assumptions about the attainment of
    happiness. i.e. contemplative exercises.

Daniel Barbezat
Contemplative ReadingLectio Divina
  • Colgate, Religion, Georgia Frank first and
    second readings, 5 days apart, with writing
  • Georgetown, Philosophy, Dante, Francis Ambrosio.
    Contemplative reading and sharing of short
    essays on hunger and food
  • Gertrude Hughes, Wesleyan, Poetry and

  • Wave of sorrow,
  • Do not drown me now
  • I see the island
  • Still ahead some how.
  • I see the island
  • And its sands are fair
  • Wave of sorrow,
  • Take me there.
  • Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

From Sorrow to Fair Sands
  • Recall a sorrow and feel its weight.
  • Wave of sorrow,/Do not drown me now
  • Find the place in you that can carry the sorrow
    (cultivate emotional balance)
  • I see the island/Still ahead some how.
  • Sustain until the turn
  • I see the island/ And its sands are fair
  • Wave of sorrow/ take me there
  • Sorrow and fair sands form a whole

Contemplative Writing
  • UNC, English, Reading, Re-Envisioning, and
    Writing Women's Lives. (Used freewriting,
    silence). Jane Danielowitz
  • Gurleen Grewal, U of So Florida, Transformations
    in Consciousness (Womens Studies)
  • Mary Rose OReilly
  • Writing through the tears

The contemplative arts
Ed Sarath
Yin Mei
Eros and Insight Amherst College
  • 28 First-year students
  • Taught with art historian (Joel Upton)
  • Readings, contemplative exercises, journaling and
  • For a journalists view of the course,

  • Breaking the silenceof an ancient ponda frog
    jumped into the watera deep resonance.

only one in a hundred millions is awake to a
poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be
alive. Thoreau
  • Single-pointed concentration.
  • Breath
  • Natural object paper clip
  • Thought
  • Images
  • Purpose is to break reactive, associative
    thinking, and to bring clarity, freedom,
    sustained focus to observation and thought.

Empathy the Afterimage
  • Four-part bell sound exercise
  • Focused Attention
  • Sound the bell
  • Resounding the bell sound in memory
  • Open Attention
  • Release -- letting go
  • Letting come The afterimage or nimita
    (ref. Buddhaghosha, Path of Purity, 10
  • Applicable to other sense experiences
  • Every outside has an inside.

Cognitive Breathing
Focused Attention
Open Attention
Open attention
  • The Master doesnt seek fulfillment,
  • Not seeking, not expecting
  • She is present, and can welcome all things.
  • Tao Te Ching 15
  • Reversal of the will

Discovering Relationships
Perceptive knowing
  • Value scale
  • Musical intervals
  • Geometric relationships

Sustaining Contradictions
  • Physics wave-particle duality
  • Math the point at infinity
  • Arts in artistic composition
  • Social sciences conflict and question of
  • Cusas exercise and the coincidence of

Disciplinary applicationsof Contemplation
  • Arts
  • Lectio divina and poetry literature
  • Learning to see a painting, to hear music
  • Contemplative movement
  • Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
  • first-person research methods concerning mental
    states/emotions (Wallace,Varela Thompson)
  • Ecology
  • Jane Goodalls patient, meditative observations

Contemplative Inquiry
  • Logical inference and induction alone are
    insufficient for discovery creation
  • One enters into the other empathetically, be it a
    poem, nature, another person, or an idea.
  • Instead of objectification, one skillfully
    subjectifies the world. Barbara McClintock
  • Creative insight requires intimate engagement.
  • Contemplative engagement becomes contemplative
    inquiry which leads to insight or contemplative

The practice of contemplative inquiry
  • Living the concepts
  • Key concepts in a field are made real by living
    them contemplatively. Examples.
  • Living the questions
  • Outer phenomenology
  • Inner phenomenology
  • Word and image
  • Posing the question

Contemplative Inquiry
  • Outer Phenomenology
  • Behavior, speech, posture
  • Inner Phenomenology
  • Inner experience, feelings, mood,
  • Words a poetic line
  • E.g. Yearning for meaning, a shadow arises.
  • Simple Image

Parker Palmer The Violence of our Knowledge
  • Every way of knowing is a way of living, every
    epistemology becomes an ethic.
  • This mythology of objectivism is more about
    control over the world, or over each other, more
    a mythology of power than a real epistemology
    that reflects how real knowing proceeds.
  • We are driven to unethical acts by an
    epistemology that has fundamentally deformed our
    relation to each other and our relation to the
  • http//

From Contemplative Practice to Contemplative
Inquiry an Epistemology of Love
  • Respect
  • Delicate
  • Intimate
  • Participatory
  • Vulnerability
  • Transformation
  • Bildung Education as formation of
  • Insight Direct perception

An Complementary Epistemology
  • There is a delicate empiricism that makes
    itself utterly identical with the object, thereby
    becoming true theory. But this enhancement of our
    mental powers belongs to a highly evolved age.
  • Every object well-contemplated opens a new
    organ in us.
  • Goethe

Ancient Greek Education
  • Ancient integrative education Greek philosophy
    was a course of training which would make them
    simultaneously contemplatives and men of actions
    since knowledge and virtue imply each other.
    Pierre Hadot in What is Ancient Philosophy.
  • Ancient transformative education Simplicius
    asked, What place shall the philosopher occupy
    in the city? That of a sculptor of men.

Erwin Schrödinger Mind and Matter
  • At every step, on every day of our life,
    something of the shape that we possessed until
    then has to change, to be overcome, to be deleted
    and replaced by something new. The resistance of
    our primitive will is the psychical correlate of
    the resistance of the existing shape to the
    transforming chisel. For we ourselves are chisel
    and statue, conquerors and conquered at the same
    time it is a true continued self-conquering

Extending Knowing
  • Valid inference, dianoia, Verstand,
  • Well-developed
  • Direct perception, episteme, Vernunft, insight,
  • Underdeveloped

Concentric Capacities
Mont Sainte-Victoire (1900)
  • Get to the heart of what is before you In
    order to make progress, there is only nature, and
    the eye is trained through contact with her. It
    becomes concentric through looking and
    working. Cézanne in a letter to Emile

Every object, well-contemplated, opens a new
organ in us. Goethe
Imagination, is a very high sort of seeing, which
does not come by study, but by the intellect
being where and what it sees. Emerson
Cognitive Breathing the Lemniscate of Attention
Focused Attention
Open Awareness
The Master doesnt seek fulfillment, Not
seeking, not expecting She is present, and can
welcome all things. Tao Te Ching
Connections to the Western Tradition
  • Pierre Hadot
  • What is Ancient Philosophy?
  • Philosophy as a Way of Life.
  • Brian Stock
  • The Contemplative Life and the Teaching of the
    Humanities, on Cmind academic website.
  • Book After Augustine The Meditative Reader and
    the Text
  • Vimeo "Foundations of European Contemplative
    Traditions in Humanities and Medicine at Brown

Intimations of Truth
  • The True, which is identical with the divine,
    does not allow itself to be recognized by us
    directly. Rather we discern it only in
    reflection, in instance, symbol, in particular
    and kindred appearances. We become aware of it
    as incomprehensible life and yet cannot renounce
    the wish to comprehend it. Goethe

The True Fruits of Education
  • Thus the fruit of education, whether in the
    university or in the monastery was the activation
    of that innermost center, that apex or spark
    which is a freedom beyond freedom, an identity
    beyond essence, a self beyond all ego, a being
    beyond the created realm, and a consciousness
    that transcends all division, all separation.
    From Thomas Mertons essay Learning to Live

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