The Tree of Contemplative Practices

Worthwhile information…

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

The Tree below  illustrates some of the contemplative practices currently in use in secular organizational and academic settings. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list. Below the Tree you will find links to descriptions of many of these practices as well as a more in-depth description of the Tree and image files for downloading.

Some of the practices on the tree link to further information–either on our website, or on Wikipedia.

The Tree of Contemplative Practices 



© The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Concept & design by Maia Duerr; illustration by Carrie Bergman

Activist Practices

Creative Practices

Relational Practices

Ritual/Cyclical Practices

  • Ceremonies and Rituals based in Spiritual or Cultural Traditions
  • Establishing a Sacred/Personal Space
  • Retreats

Stillness Practices


Understanding the Tree

On the Tree of Contemplative Practices, the roots symbolize the two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices. The roots of the tree encompass and transcend differences in the religious traditions from which many of the practices originated, and allow room for the inclusion of new practices that are being created in secular contexts.

The branches represent different groupings of practices. For example, Stillness Practices focus on quieting the mind and bodyin order to develop calmness and focus. Generative Practices may come in many different forms but share the common intent of generating thoughts and feelings, such as thoughts of devotion and compassion, rather than calming and quieting the mind. (Please note that such classifications are not definitive, and many practices could be included in more than one category.)

Because this illustration cannot possibly include all contemplative practices, we offer a free download of a blank Tree that you can customize to include your own practices. Activities not included on the tree (including those which may seem mundane, such as gardening or eating) may be understood to be contemplative practices when done with the intent of cultivating awareness and wisdom.

Downloading and Reprinting the Tree

You may use the tree for personal and non-commercial purposes. For example, please feel free to use it to illustrate an academic paper, post it on your blog, or display it in your organization’s meditation room. The Tree of Contemplative Practices is a copyrighted image. Commercial use, including derivative work, is not permitted without permission.

If the tree is published or presented in non-commercial use with our permission, you must mention The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society as the copyright holder of the image (the downloadable files, below, already contain this information as part of the image).

Please contact us at if you have questions regarding the use of the tree, or if you would like to share with us how you have used it in your work. Thank you!

For printingDownload a 2.6 MB, 8″ x 10″ .jpg image of the Tree of Contemplative Practices (if you require a .pdf or other sizes or formats, please contact us.)

For low-resolution useDownload a 185 KB, 600 x 608 pixel .jpg image of the Tree of Contemplative Practices


A Blank Tree for Your Own Practices

Here’s a version of the Tree with the practice and branch names removed, so you can fill it in however you wish.

For printingDownload a 2.2 MB, 8″ x 10″ .jpg image of the blank Tree of Contemplative Practices