Contemplative Inquiry

“Mobility in thought, the ability to sustain complexity or even contradiction, and an appreciation for conceptual holism, are features of a new intelligence necessary for contemplative knowing.”

~ Arthur Zajonc, from Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love

I first met Arthur Zajonc in 2003, when I was a student in the Barfield School, an innovative graduate program designed to integrate academic research, contemplative inquiry, and practice in the arts. Arthur and Janet Adler were my primary thesis mentors for my research on witness consciousness, completed in 2008. Continue to thesis.

Contemplative Inquiry starts, as with any research or exploration, with a question or object of study. Attention is also paid to the manner in which the question or object is held. Precisely because of our ability to distinguish one thing from another—the kneebone from the anklebone, the flower stigma from its style, myself from another person—we come to know ourselves and the phenomena of the world as separate. An inward acknowledgment of this separation and the longing to overcome it, brings a sense of humility, reverence, and the possibility of respectful relationship with more than the solitary self. Arthur Zajonc calls humility and reverence the moral foundations of contemplative inquiry.

At Three Stone Studio, the Discipline of Authentic Movement and the Alexander Technique support development of embodied awareness as the groundwork for contemplative inquiry. Meditative and other contemplative practices can enhance and develop one’s capacity to be awake, empathic, and responsive, deeply engaged with one’s own central questions, engaged in the world. Paula offers workshops that incorporate embodied awareness and contemplative inquiry in a variety of contexts and professional development settings.

Resources for Contemplative Inquiry 

Arthur Zajonc

Center for Contemplative Mind in Society 

Contemplative Life 


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