24 episodes

“Contemplate This!” features interviews with leaders and teachers of contemplative practices (mindfulness, meditation, contemplative prayer, etc.) in order to learn about their history, how they became involved in contemplation, what their daily practice looks like, how they teach and share the fruits of contemplation with others – and most importantly – how their practice has transformed them and inspired their work to transform others and the world around them.

Contemplate This! Thomas J. Bushlack

    • Spirituality

“Contemplate This!” features interviews with leaders and teachers of contemplative practices (mindfulness, meditation, contemplative prayer, etc.) in order to learn about their history, how they became involved in contemplation, what their daily practice looks like, how they teach and share the fruits of contemplation with others – and most importantly – how their practice has transformed them and inspired their work to transform others and the world around them.

    Episode 22: Interview with Fr. Bill Sheehan, OMI

    Episode 22: Interview with Fr. Bill Sheehan, OMI

    Fr. Bill dives deep into the practice of Centering Prayer right from the first question in this episode. Jim McElroy, my guest on episode 19, mentioned Fr. Bill Sheehan as a frequent retreat leader in the 12-Step Contemplative Outreach community, and he suggested inviting Bill to be a guest. This was sage advice!

    Fr. Bill is a priest and a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.), and has a Masters Degree in Formative Spirituality from Duquesne University. He has ministered to clergy as Director of Ministry to Priests, and he has broad experience in pastoral ministry as a pastor and in marriage counseling.

    Fr. Sheehan was present at the very first Centering Prayer retreat offered by Thomas Keating at the Lama Foundation in 1983. Since that time he has led many Centering Prayer workshops and retreats in different parts of the country.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Episode 21: Interview with Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB

    Episode 21: Interview with Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB

    Fr. Columba Stewart is kind of like a cross between a Benedictine monk and Indiana Jones!

    Since becoming the executive director of the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library (HMML) at St. John’s Abbey in 2003, Columba has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and India, cultivating relationships with communities possessing manuscript collections from the early medieval to early modern periods.

    A graduate of Harvard, Yale, and Oxford universities, Father Columba has published extensively in his research field of early Christian monasticism and received numerous grants and fellowships in support of his scholarship.

    Father Columba and HMML have been featured on many international media outlets, including the CBS news program, “60 Minutes,” BBC Radio Newshour, The Atlantic, The Economist, Harvard Magazine, PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, The Wall Street Journal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Episode 20: Interview with Michael Poffenberger

    Episode 20: Interview with Michael Poffenberger

    Michael Poffenberger is the Executive Director of the Center for Action & Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he is part of a younger generation of leaders seeking to integrate contemplative practices with compassionate social action. Michael was inspired in college by spending time with Saint Mother Teresa and her sisters of charity in Kolkata, India, and then learning about the work of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement, and the writings of Thomas Merton on contemplation and social action. Prior to arriving at the CAC as executive director, Michael helped to found the Uganda Conflict Action Network, which is now called Resolve. At Resolve, Michael led bipartisan coalitions and developed international campaigns to advance policy change for war-affected communities in Africa. He helped author and win passage of legislation focused on the prevention of violent atrocities and testified before both the US Congress and United Nations Security Council. Michael has an impressive background, and he understands how important it is to ground our work of love and justice in the world in a spiritual practice that keeps us centered and humble.

    • 1 hr
    Episode 19: Contemplation & 12-Step Recovery with Jim McElroy

    Episode 19: Contemplation & 12-Step Recovery with Jim McElroy

    I first met Jim McElroy when he facilitated a workshop through our local St. Louis chapter of Contemplative Outreach in St. Louis. Although very soft-spoken and quite humble, Jim's presence and teaching immediately took me to a deeper place in my Centering Prayer practice. Recently I was at another workshop, and I was spellbound listening to Jim tell stories about the earliest days in the 1990’s when several people from Contemplative Outreach realized that they were all also in 12-step recovery program. Over the course of several retreats they began to create what is now the Centering Prayer 12-Step international outreach program.

    Centering Prayer 12-Step Outreach helps people create a foundation of prayer and meditation to support sobriety and 12-step awakening. For those of you not familiar with the 12-steps, the 11th step reads: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out."
    Many people in a spiritual program of recovery from addiction find Contemplative practices like Centering Prayer and others to be a major support for sobriety and emotional stability through some pretty dark stuff.

    Whether or not you're in a program of spiritual recovery from addiction, the insights in this episode provide some helpful clues for dealing with the human condition. Gerald May, the author of the classic book Addiction and Grace, says that to be human is to be addicted. We all struggle with addictions, big and small. The Buddha taught that all suffering is caused by attachment and desire, so this interview will be helpful no matter who or where you are, 'cuz we're all struggling with some kind of addictions and attachments.

    After we recorded the show, Jim wanted me to mention a few people to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude in building the 12-Step Outreach network. Although I have Jim's permission to use his full name, in 12-step tradition I will only use first names to give these folks credit. They include, Dave, Jenny, Joelle, Joann, Kate, Joe, Christophe, and a special thanks to Fr. Thomas Keating, Abbot Joseph Boyle, and Pat Johnson.

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Episode 18: Interview with Dr. Jill Wener

    Episode 18: Interview with Dr. Jill Wener

    After 10+ years practicing Internal Medicine in a busy urban hospital, Dr Jill Wener knows firsthand what severe stress and burnout feel like. In the midst of her own burnout, she was introduced to Conscious Health Meditation, and it had a profound effect on her resilience and reactivity. Like many healthcare professionals, Jill was initially skeptical of spiritual practices. However, as she learned the science behind Conscious Health Meditation, she embraced the training and marveled at the results of the practice. After 2 years of advanced coursework, Jill completed her 3-month teacher training in Rishikesh, India in April, 2016.

    As a Conscious Health Meditation teacher, Jill uses her medical background to help clinicians who are interested in reducing stress and living a life filled with creativity, energy and personal and professional fulfillment. In addition to teaching Conscious Health Meditation, she has presented on stress reduction at medical conferences nationwide. Jill has received tremendous personal benefits from her own meditation practice, and finds joy in sharing her passion with others. Jill is currently living and teaching in Atlanta, and she hosts meditation retreats and physician wellness programs around the country.

    • 1 hr 29 min
    Episode 17: Interview with Rev. Dr. Sarah Bachelard

    Episode 17: Interview with Rev. Dr. Sarah Bachelard

    There are some real delights waiting for you in this episode - especially when Sarah reflects on St. Paul's writings about no longer thinking about ourselves and our egos - I found this so liberating from the way we tend to focus on ourselves and only up making our suffering worse.  We also sort of go off script toward the end, when Sarah asks me about living in the current climate in the United States today as a committed contemplative.  I hope you'll find some encouragement in our exchange and Sarah's brilliant wisdom!

    Sarah is an ordained Anglican priest and retreat leader, based in Canberra, Australia. She is the founding director of Benedictus Contemplative Church and an honorary research fellow at the Australian Catholic University. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University where she studied theology with former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.  It's also worth noting that Sarah will be the keynote speaker at this summer's John Main Seminar in Vancouver this August, hosted annually by the World Community for Christian Meditation.

    • 1 hr 22 min

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