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Common Ground for People of All Faiths

Monday, Oct. 26, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 26, 2009— The recent deaths of three people meditating for hours in an Arizona “sweat lodge” shined a spotlight on the extreme variety of methods people use in pursuit of well-being, wisdom, healing, or stress management.

An October 30 conference at Santa Clara University will explore the positive side of contemplative practices, including how various religions incorporate meditative contemplation into their faith: “Centering prayer” for Christians; the five daily prayers for Muslims; the Sabbath observance for Jews; the well-known meditative mindfulness of Zen Buddhism.

“Spirituality and contemplative practices from the various religious and spiritual traditions can be an excellent tool for stress management, but they are often overlooked by health care and mental health care professionals who have historically distrusted organized religion,” said Tom Plante, professor of psychology and director of the spirituality and health institute at Santa Clara University. Plante is also the editor of the book based on the conference, Contemplative Practices in Action: Diverse Paths for Well Being, Wisdom, and Healing. “This conference will educate practitioners and others on how to share or educate their clients about the healing tools they possess within their own faith traditions.”

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Benson Memorial Center at Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, Calif., 95053.

One conference session will focus on how spiritual practices are employed by those in business in Silicon Valley. Others will explore traditional and state-of-the-art meditative and contemplative practices employed by a variety of religions. Still others will explain the eight features all meditative practices have in common.

The material is based on Plante’s edited book,  written by 15 leaders in the field, most of whom are affiliated with the Spirituality and Health Institute (SHI) at Santa Clara University.

Among the conference topics:

•    The Impact of Meditation on Daily Perceptions of Silicon Valley Leaders
•    The Eight Point Program of Passage Meditation
•    Mantram Repetition: A “Portable Contemplative Practice for Modern Times”
•    Managing Stress Mindfully
•    The Path of Yoga
•    The Eternal Is with me, I shall not fear: Jewish Approaches to Contemplative Practice
•    Centering Prayer: A Method of Christian Meditation For Our Time
•    A Pilgrimage from Suffering to Solidarity: Walking the Path of Contemplative Practices
•    “Shaking the Blues Away”:  Energizing spiritual practices for the treatment of chronic pain

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus masters and law degrees, and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. masters universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse
SCU Media Relations, Asst. Director
(408) 554-5121

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