Sunday, March 10, 2013

Contributions of Mindfulness & Other Contemplative Traditions

     "Contemplative disciplines make several radical claims about states of mind. First, they suggest that all of us potentially have available to us families of functionally specific and higher states, and that contemplative practices can foster these. Moreover, they claim that many of these contemplative states of mind can offer multiple psychological, somatic, and spiritual benefits. These states may heal, catalyze development, cultivate specific capacities such as positive emotions, as well as produce insights, understanding, and wisdom.
     In other words, contemplative disciplines suggest that certain kinds of insight, understanding, and wisdom are more likely to occur in specific states of mind, and some may occur only in specific states.
     So mind states are far more malleable than is usually recognized, there are many more functionally specific and higher states potentially available to us than we recognize, and some of these may foster exceptional capacities, including sapiential ones. However, contemplative traditions aim not just to glimpse altered states and higher perspectives, but to stabilize them. The goal is to transform transient states into enduring traits, higher states into higher stages, peak experiences into plateau experiences, and epiphanies into personalities. ... the goal is 'to transform flashes of illumination into abiding light.' The result is that brief glimpses extend into continuous vision, novel perspectives become permanent metaperspectives, and new insights develop into enduring understandings.
     In short, certain functionally specific and higher states may be doorways through which wisdom — in the form of valuable insights, understandings, perspectives and resultant ways of lifecan emerge and find expression. Equally important, contemplative disciplines have developed specific practices and inner technologies to cultivate these states and their insights." 
       Walsh R. The varieties of wisdom: Contemplative, cross-cultural, and integral contributions. Research in Human Development 2011; 8(2): 109-127.

Photo: qhenson

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