‘a long, loving look at the real’ Walter Burghardt
Here at Touchstone we believe contemplation enables the opportunity for deep listening to take place.
What is contemplation?
Contemplation involves thoughtful observation and compassionate reflection. As our lives and minds get busy, this can provide an invaluable opportunity to ‘pause on purpose’. Recent research has evidence there are multiple benefits from mindfully and regularly contemplating. These include; healing from trauma, anxiety, depression, burnout, over thinking, procrastination, sleep problems and poor self-care. There are also specific advantages of practising in a group. For example, intentionally practising alongside others and having a designated place to go on a regular basis can help you deepen your practice further.
Throughout Christian history and in many other faith and wisdom traditions, intentional times of contemplation have also been seen as important in increasing awareness of the divine and helping people to reconnect with their true selves and core values.
Alongside spaces for intentional silence, other contemplative practices include contemplative prayer, mindful walking and movement, focused experiences in nature and artistic practices.
Is this for me?
Whether you have an existing practice or are coming completely a fresh, all are welcome as we approach the sessions with ‘beginner’s mind’ and a sense of curiosity. Our sessions are open to all faiths and beliefs and we hope our practices will support you in deepening your own faith journey or spirituality. There may be specific retreat days rooted in the Christian tradition. We will make this explicit beforehand and these days are open to all.
Mindful Movement and Meditation: A gentler way of being in our bodies. We can too easily live sedentary lives and ‘getting fit’ can sometimes feel overwhelming. Our guided sessions are not primarily focused on building strength or increasing flexibility, although they can. Rather they are designed to help participants explore afresh how it feels to be connected to their bodies and honour both its limitations and potential. There is no pressure to perform a specific posture and options are given. We keep classes small to enable a personalised approach and maintain space for participants to feel safer.
Mindful journaling: Journaling is an age-old practice and as creative journaling is not restricted to words, it can also help us to express ourselves and process thoughts and feelings more fully. Ultimately this can bring a sense of wholeness and healing. We offer an optional grounding practice at the beginning of each session and reflective prompts on the week’s theme. All materials are provided and there is no expectation for you to share or interpret your work.
All faiths teach silence can be sacred. Our ‘Shared Silence’ is a time when we come together as a community across faith traditions and beliefs to spend time in intentional silence. Sometimes the theme of our shared silence will be led by local, national and international news and events, such as the National Holocaust Memorial Day or Interfaith Week. At other times it will be led by what is on the hearts and minds of the people present that day.
We work closely with LMM (Leeds Methodist Mission) who have created a list of resources to help you find a form of reflection that may work for you. These include a regular mindfulness group on Zoom, recorded meditations, an art meditation blog and links to other forms of meditation such as centring prayer.