ACMHE is the academic association dedicated to contemplative teaching and learning.
The ACMHE Goals
By shining the light of a contemplative lens on the harm that has been done, we endeavor to be a force for healing and growth in and amongst individuals, communities, and institutions. We recognize that much of human education is informal and that the wisdom of our ancestors, grandmothers, and parents is invaluable and equal in importance to any formal education.
We recognize the lessons from the natural environment as well. We value the guidance of the sea, land, air, and all living creatures in our environment and consider ourselves to be in creative co-learning with all things around us.
We strive to stimulate inquiry into what is most meaningful to all as interconnected beings, part of an interdependent planetary and universal ecology. We seek to recast the traditional foundations for education into a truly integrative, transformative, and communal enterprise that is wholly open and inclusive of all backgrounds and which cultivates each person in the fullest possible way.
Though valuable to a point, conventional methods of scientific research, pedagogy, and scholarship need to be broadened, deepened, and divested of their oppressive legacies. The experiential methods developed within the contemplative traditions offer a rich set of tools for exploring the mind, body, spirit, heart, and relationship to the world.
Contemplative practices augment and transform conventional educational and scientific practices towards enriched research methodologies and pedagogic models which can lead to lasting solutions to global challenges. None of the CMind or ACMHE approaches require adherence to a single ideology or creed and the diverse array of contemplative practices we welcome and engage make contemplative development accessible to all.
Who We Are
The Association of the Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE) is the component of CMind that focuses on increasing contemplative insight and action in the realm of education. This includes undergraduate and graduate education; education for the professions; and informal and K-12 education as they relate to higher education.
The ACMHE Mission
We believe that education is, in fact, an embodied experience. We strive to augment humans' capacity to experience emotional, spiritual, somatic, cognitive, and intellectual learning as we engage with one another and with the natural environment.
The ACMHE Vision
We recognize all beings as somatic learners and teachers in this embodied envisioning of education. We recognize that racism, especially anti-Black racism, has compromised every field of human endeavor and contributed to the degradation of the environment itself, to the peril of the planet and all of its inhabitants. Through the work of the Association of the Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE), we work to raise awareness about and address the ways that each and every aspect of education, as well as every discipline and realm of work, is impacted by racism and other oppressive paradigms.
ACMHE Conference Keynotes
The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (CMind) is the parent organization of ACMHE, and an independent and secular 501-c3 nonprofit organization based in western Massachusetts. Founded in 1997, we're a small organization with just three full-time staff members, yet we're the hub of an international network of thousands of education professionals, change-seekers, and contemplative practitioners. CMind was founded with a bold mission: to integrate contemplative awareness in contemporary life to help create a more just, compassionate, and reflective society.
From 1997 through 2009, we developed programs designed for various professional audiences, including educators, lawyers, judges, activists, business people, journalists, philanthropists, youth and youth leaders, chaplains, and military caregivers. In each program area, participants explored how contemplative practices could help them care for themselves and their interpersonal relationships, as well as exploring questions of ethics and values related to their vocational roles and professional expectations.
Following the 2008 global financial crisis, CMind faced a crossroads and our programs were at great risk. To remain operational, we focused our efforts on our largest program area: higher education. We launched the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE), the professional academic membership association now at the heart of CMind. Since 2008, the ACMHE has been our primary initiative.
What are Contemplative Practices?
Contemplative practices are activities that engage introspection, reflection and self-awareness. Contemplative practices can help us build awareness and understanding about ourselves and our relationships in the world, access our courage and resilience, and take action for a humane and sustainable future.
Recent research has associated contemplative practices in education with:
- increased ability to listen
- improved classroom learning environments
- improved ability to maintain healthy relationships, and
- greater integration of the learned information.
Although these claims are important, at CMind we recognize that the greatest value of contemplative practices is immeasurable: in the personal and meaningful experiences that are unique to each of us.
What is Contemplative Pedagogy?
Contemplative pedagogy is a method of teaching that intentionally engages an awareness of, and reflection on, one's experiences, identities, thoughts, emotions, and values. This enables students to connect their learning to how they live their lives.
Contemplative pedagogies employ a diverse array of contemplative practices as means of reflection and introspection. Because contemplative methods center students' own experiences in their learning, they can be adapted to any academic discipline or subject.
The land on which we live and work is the traditional land of Nonotuck, Nipmuc and Pocumtuck people.
Organizational Values: ADVOCACY & SERVICE
We believe that our work should sustain people to do their work in a way that feels "real" to them and helps them connect to their heart, soul, and inspiration. We will use the power, privileges, and resources available to us to help others leverage resources, shift power, and legitimize this way of working.
Organizational Values: THE POWER OF COMMUNITY
We believe that we are helping to form a community of people who want to create a more just and peaceful world. We believe that our power as a collective whole is greater than any of us alone.
Organizational Values: DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
We believe that diversity has many dimensions, including spirituality, race, ethnicity, age, class, gender identity, and ability. We will consistently remind each other of the need to encompass a larger point of view, and to recognize that complex power dynamics along axes of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, and other social locations shape our interactions with others and their inclusion or exclusion.
Organizational Values: AUTHENTICITY
We understand that contemplative approaches are first and foremost a way of being, rather than a means to a particular end. With that understanding, our intention is that our work will not simply be about contemplative practices, but will itself embody the spirit of contemplation.
Organizational Values: SPACIOUSNESS
We recognize that dialogue around, and experiences of, integrating contemplative social practices and justice work may evoke discomfort, disagreement, and disorientation. We seek to hold all that arises-all emotions, interpretations of experience, interpersonal dynamics, and the like-with the spirit of spacious inquiry, acceptance, accountability, and receptivity.
Organizational Values: HUMILITY
Neither CMind nor our community of members has all the answers, or all the questions. Contemplative practice is not a panacea; we are individually and collectively on journeys of inquiry and learning, including inquiry into the efficacy and potential harms of historically and culturally bound forms of contemplative practice.