contemplative pedagogy

Contemplative Empowerment and Social Change

    Cover design by Alicia Brown   Download Individual Articles Below Editor’s Introduction We are pleased to share with you our first peer-reviewed collection, embodying The Arrow’s mission to create a space for rigorous, scholarly investigation of the relationship between contemplative practice and teachings on the one hand and issues of politics, economics, ecology, and activism on the other. With this issue, we break new ground in the field of contemplative studies by examining directly the ways in which mindfulness practices and contemplative teachings can be put in service of responsible citizenship, social justice, and social transformation. With the commodification of mindfulness and yoga continuing apace, and with most scholarly research on these practices still focusing on their individual benefits—psychological and physiological—we are thrilled to publish this first peer-reviewed issue, featuring articles that bring the political relevance of such practices and teachings into relief. In “Good-for-Nothing Practice and the Art of Paradox: The Exemplary Citzenship of Ta-Nehisi Coates,” Dean Mathiowetz explores meditation as one method that may help people to embody qualities essential to …

Photograph by Holly A. Senn

Teaching and Learning in Nearby Nature

This essay also appears in the issue “Teaching Contemplative Environments” (Volume 4, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  Conceptual Framework: Learning in Nearby Nature Parks and public green spaces can support exploration, restoration, and meaningful action. Kaplan, Kaplan, and Ryan define nearby nature as: “The settings we emphasize are not the wild and awesome, distant and dramatic, lush and splendid. Rather, the emphasis is on the everyday, often unspectacular, natural environment that is, or ideally would be, nearby. Nearby nature includes parks and open spaces, street trees, vacant lots, and backyard gardens, as well as fields and forests. Included are places that range from tiny to quite large, from visible through the window to more distant, from carefully managed to relatively neglected.”1 Nearby nature sites can foster engagement and exploration by balancing coherence (having a sense of pathway and/or order) with complexity (having depth and richness), and balancing legibility (having memorable features that help with orientation) with mystery (or the sense that there is more to explore).2 Nearby nature helps …

Photograph by Alicia Brown

Sending and Taking: Teaching a Practice for Nature

This essay also appears in the issue “Teaching Contemplative Environments” (Volume 4, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  The Buddhist practice of sending and taking, or tonglen, is a foundational way to engage the suffering of others. It offers a sense of connection when distance may be present; a possibility of reprieve when struggle overwhelms; and an opportunity for generosity when difficulty may limit our ability to offer. Perhaps most of all, it can reinvent our notion of agency when we feel powerless; tonglen can transcend miles to enable us to offer a bit of peace in a faraway conflict zone, or it can be practiced while sitting at the bedside of a loved one. The simplest instruction for tonglen is to send wishes for freedom from suffering and happiness to someone we hold dear. Bringing that individual to mind, we send warmth, light or peace; we imagine that person healthy and radiant, offering whatever we can to help along the way. In so doing, we generate bodhicitta, the feeling …