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Contemplative Practice focuses on workshops designed to encourage a quiet mind. I draw on monastic practices such as Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, and the backbone of Ignatian practiceóthe Examen of Consciousness. Incorporated throughout these workshops are creative experiences from work with clay to stacking stones, suminagashi paper marbling to qigong movement.

My desire is that everyone experiences the fullness of creative interaction with the life of the Spirit. Through holistic learning, the practice of contemplative disciplines can impact our life journeys in profound ways.

Stacking Stones: Ritual for a Quiet Mind

It has been my privilege to accompany a variety of individuals on forays into stone stacking as a meditative ritual. Building cairns (stacked or piled stones) is a contemplative practice that cannot be hurried. Because each stone has its own unique proportions and weight, participants are forced to slow down and carefully consider the placement of each stone. Stones balance one atop the other. A carelessly placed stone will topple, possibly taking down those beneath it. Therefore, one must pay careful attention to the alignment of the structure and the center of gravity of each stone. Those who participate in this ritual quickly learn that stones are held together as much through tension as through rest and it is this delicate balance that allows their cairns to stand.

The slow concentration required for balancing stones has great power and potential for personal resolution. Because this process requires such concentration, a participantís attention is disengaged from pressing concerns. An individualís subconscious has the freedom to bubble to the surface uninhibited when his or her hands are engaged in an absorbing endeavor. Often this allows a flash of insight to arise unexpectedly; thus permitting the resolution a participant may have been seeking to appear.

Individuals choose stone balancing for a number of reasons. Some wish to symbolize healing from a destructive relationship. Others, faced with career options, turn to cairn building as a means of discovering clear direction. Some simply enjoy the freedom to play outdoors in a way they may never have tried. Regardless of what brings someone to the ritual of stacking stones, I encourage each one to follow their cairn building with a time of gentle reflection. Participants are encouraged to journal their experiences. Journaling allows individuals to describe and highlight areas which arose during stone stacking that they may wish to explore further. No matter how each one chooses to reflect on his or her experiences, all benefit from the ritualís capacity to create a quiet mind.

"What a man takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love."

    Meister Eckhart