The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

Reflecting on Contemplative Learning

Posted by Karen on June 5, 2009

What’s the difference between contemplation and reflection?

I had an interesting insight from someone who is doing work in diversity and religious studies who uses a “contemplative” model. She discussed how this was different from (though complimentary to) the reflective model. I was curious so I asked the difference.

The Reflective learning model – is all about observation, the ability to conciously analyze what we feel, see, observe.

The Contemplative learning model – is about more than analysis; it is about creating space around the questions so that something new and fresh can emerge. It’s not from an intellectual place, but from somewhere else inside ourselves.

I love that other disciplines are trying to define the same essence I’ve been trying to understand for the last few years of my career. We must be headed for a global breakthrough in the subject. It’s no accident that the “new” step I added to the updated version “The Job of Your Life” is Spaciousness.

Without space, the analysis can paralyze the observer. Without space, we are locked up in thought. Without space, there is no actual “newness”.

3 Responses to “Reflecting on Contemplative Learning”

  1. grace said

    Hi Karen, I’m continuing my research and found this, I think this is me you were referring to, right? Now I am finding my own quotes when I research the topic, that’s good, Grace

  2. Karen said

    Yes Grace…this is you! Thanks for the great insight.

  3. Thanks for the distinction. I think of contemplation as the ability to sit with question and not necessarily try to answer it. Invariably, this creates new questions. The “space” that you talk about is the very nature of inquiry or curiosity in my opinion and in contemplation we can nurture that underlying feeling or sensibility. I believe it is vital to do so.

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