I am excited to share my interview with Thomas J. Bushlack, Ph.D.
As pulled from his web site.
- You’ve heard about the benefits of mindfulness, meditation, and contemplative prayer
- You’d like to feel more centered, compassionate, and connected to God (or your Higher Power) and to others
- You want to give back to your community
BUT who has the time to begin or deepen a contemplative practice?
You do! We were all created for divine union – we just need a little support, inspiration, and lots of love to get there.
As a young(er) man, I wanted to be a monk and live a life of quiet contemplation, but the Spirit had other plans of marriage, raising a family, building a career, engaging in my local community – amid challenges of anxiety and recovery. The resources on this site are dedicated to sharing the fruits of contemplation with others.
In my day job, I’m associate professor of Theology and Christian Ethics at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO, where I’m also the co-director of the Ashley-O’Rourke Center for Health Care Mission. I’m also a Trustee of the Trust for the Meditation Process, an oblate of St. Benedict at St. John’s Abbey (Collegeville, MN), and a commissioned presenter of Centering Prayer through Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.”
Now on to the interview!
Tell us a little bit about your podcast: Contemplate This! When did it start? Why did you begin your podcast?
“Contemplate This!” was inspired by Michael Gervais’s podcast, “Finding Mastery.” He interviews people who are masters in their field in order to understand what makes them tick and drives them to greatness. I thought it would be really cool to create a similar podcast and interview people who are masters of the contemplative life.
The idea really took off after I attended a gathering at Snowmass monastery last year and met Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, Laurence Freeman, and Tilden Edwards. I just asked them to be interviewed and they all agreed. That’s how it was born.
What are some unexpected fruits that you have experienced as a result of your podcast?
The interviews are really fun, and I receive loads of inspiration from talking with these incredible people! That would be enough for my own benefit, but sharing these interviews with thousands of listeners makes it all the more rewarding.
But the best part is hearing from people who love the podcast. Some of the emails I receive are really moving – people finding connection or helpful ways to deal with their struggles, deepen their contemplative practice, or discover breakthroughs in personal or professional life. It’s really humbling to know the Spirit is at work through the podcast.
You mention on your site, “We were all created for divine union – we just need a little support, inspiration, and lots of love to get there.”
How do you define divine union?
My favorite way to describe divine union comes from St. Gregory the Great (6th century) – “resting in God.” My faith teaches me that it’s possible to experience this union in this human body, right here and right now. And since God is infinite – and infinite love – everyone can open to that infinite depth.
Like all great adventures, we don’t know where it will lead. But we know that God desires this union with us and for us to share the fruits of that union with a hurting world.
What is prayer? How do you pray?
Prayer is anything we do in order to develop a relationship with God. We “practice” specific forms of prayer in order to turn our whole life into prayer. I pray when I worship as part of a community, when I talk to God in verbal prayer, when I read Scripture, and when I sit in silence to rest in God’s Presence. St. Paul suggests we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) – contemplative prayer allows the Spirit and presence of prayer to soak into everything we do.
I see you have a couple of online courses. Tell us a little bit about them. Where can people learn more about them?
Right now I have three courses, and am working on creating more. You pick the price you pay for the course.
- “Igniting Compassion” is a free mini-course that guides participants through connecting contemplative practice with compassionate social action.
- “Everyday Mysticism” is an introduction to the history, theology, and – most importantly – the practice of contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition. It’s great for someone who is brand new, or for those looking to brush up or deepen their practice.
- And “The 11th Step” is designed to help persons integrate prayer and meditation into a 12-step program of spiritual recovery. While it is designed for persons in an addiction and recovery program, it can be very helpful for anyone looking for practical ways to deal the universal human experience of craving that leads to suffering.
More information about all these courses is available at www.Contemplative-U.com
Do you have any upcoming projects that you wish to share?
Yes, I do! In fact, I’m working to roll out an entirely new business model so that I can draw upon my expertise in contemplative practices, ethics, and decision-making to help leaders to make wise decisions in service to the greater good. These will be offered for individuals seeking personal development, and also for executives, managers, or leaders in corporate contexts seeking leadership and professional development.
Within the next few months I’ll be rolling out new personal and professional development offerings that are likely to include: online learning, in-person workshops, public speaking, and one-on-one coaching. Info about these new offerings will be available at www.thomasjbushlack.com. People can also sign up for my email list there, and receive updates about new products as soon as they’re available.
What is (are) the best place for people to find you to learn more about you and your work?
The two websites noted above – www.thomasjbushlack.com and www.Contemplative-U.com. People can also join a growing community at https://www.facebook.com/contemplativeu/, or connect with me via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tjbushlack/
Tom thanks for taking the time to share about you and the wonderful work you do!
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Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.
Centering Prayer as a Way of Life by Contemplative Outreach, Pamela Begeman, Mary Anne Best, Julie Saad: In this, the third offering of this year’s trilogy on Centering Prayer, we will explore how the practice of Centering Prayer evolves into a surrendered life of inner peace and equanimity despite the busy and often tumultuous circumstances of daily life in the 21st century. As the inner room begins to expand its walls beyond the twice-daily practice of Centering Prayer, the Spirit takes over our life more and more, and we begin to accept ourselves just as we are, God as God is, and all reality as it is. From this disposition of true humility, enlarged under the influence of God’s grace, we live in the Kingdom of God here and now, which is a state of consciousness ever-attentive to the presence of God in the midst of ordinary life.
Centering Prayer as Practice and Process by Contemplative Outreach, Pamela Begeman, Mary Anne Best, Julie Saad: If you are new to Centering Prayer or wishing to renew your practice, this retreat will assist you with deepening your relationship with God. We will focus on teaching and practicing the method of Centering Prayer; review its place in the Christian tradition, its conceptual background, and psychological process; and share insights into establishing Centering Prayer as a way of life.
Lean In, Lighten Up and Let Go Practices for a Deeper Commitment to the Contemplative Life by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer: This retreat encourages a life of prayer and practice, both “on the chair” and in daily life. It will support you in making a deeper commitment to your relationship with God, and strengthen your ability to live the contemplative life through dedication to prayer and practice, all within the normal routines of everyday life.