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What Do We Mean by
'Contemplative Practices'?

The Tree of Contemplative Practices illustrates some of the many contemplative practices used in education and secular organizations. Developed by Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.


Source: CMind. (2021). The Tree of Contemplative Practices [Illustration]. The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.

On the Tree of Contemplative Practices, the roots symbolize the two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices: cultivating awareness and developing a stronger connection to God, the Divine, or inner wisdom. The roots of the tree encompass and transcend differences in the religious traditions from which many of the practices originated, and allow room for the inclusion of new practices that are being created in secular contexts.

No single diagram could detail all of the contemplative practices used around the world. A blank version of the tree is available for download in order to add further practices from your own tradition(s) or personal practice, or for use with students in developing a collective chart of practices.


Any activities not included on this Tree (including those which may seem more mundane, such as gardening, eating, or taking a bath) may be considered a contemplative practice when done with the intent of cultivating awareness or developing a stronger connection with Divinity or one's inner wisdom.

Concept & design by Maia Duerr; illustration by Carrie Bergman for C-MIND.

We offer a download of a blank Tree so that you can customize it and include your own practices.

The branches represent the different groupings of practices. For example, Stillness Practices focus on quieting the mind and body in order to develop calmness and focus. Generative Practices come in many different forms (i.e. prayers, visualizations, chanting) but share the common intent of generating thoughts and feelings of devotion and compassion, rather than calming and quieting the mind. Please note that these classifications are not definitive. For example, mantra repetition could be considered a Stillness Practice rather than a Generative one.

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