Research Philosophy

The Contemplary supports and promotes research into the efficacy of the contemplative practices we offer. In this regard, we adopt the position that the empirical study of consciousness involves not only 3rd person observation of the brain, but also 1st person, introspective observation of the mind. The Contemplary therefore positions the contemplative not merely as the subject of scientific research, but as a co-researcher engaged in sophisticated methods of introspective enquiry.

Current Research Activity

Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT):
Outcomes for Resilience.

The focus of this project is threefold:

This research uses a mixed-method design: quantitative data creation techniques and measures combined with qualitative data creation and models of analysis including Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

To our knowledge, there is no other study looking into the effect of CCT on an Australian sample. We have identified this as a novel, niche study in an Australian context and we plan to elicit funding to extend this research.

Mindfulness, Emotional Resilience and Creativity

A longitudinal qualitative study of the effects of attention training on creative expression in a graduate level writing course.

Dr. Sue Woolfe, one of the initiators of this research project, together with Stephen Sewell, teaches a series of techniques in the Creative Writing course at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

These techniques are aimed at promoting a state of “attentive inattentiveness” she terms “The Lull” and which she believes promotes creativity in the field of fiction writing.

The overall aim of this empirical inquiry is to examine the positive effect of attention training (e.g. meditation, stability, clarity & reflective practices) on the creative process of the eight writing students of the 2017 NIDA cohort. We believe this training will encourage them to cultivate the skills necessary to be creative and resilient individuals. It is postulated that students who develop these skills will be better able to learn, engage in fiction writing and adapt more readily to the demands of education and everyday life.

We wish to test this belief by running a year-long program based on a case study methodology collecting material from the students. The purpose of our small pilot study is to examine the feasibility of an approach that is intended to be used in a large-scale study and to explore in detail the participants’ life-world.

Within this context little or no research of this kind has been done to understand and assess students’ perception and creative writing experience. To our knowledge, there are no studies that have explored the impact of attention training on the creative processes of writing students. We have identified this as a novel and niche area of study within the field of fiction writing.

This project is important in so far as the ability to teach creativity is one of the major issues facing the Creative Economy. As recently as October 3, 2016, the Guardian reported that

Being creative in today’s fast-moving, tech-driven world requires a particular set of skills that goes beyond fact-based learning: problem-solving; creative thinking; and the ability to experiment, fail and try again…But is our education system set up to deliver innovation and creativity in this rapidly expanding and fast-moving sector? (“Cultivating the Creative Industries – Roundtable Debate” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2016. Web. 03 Oct. 2016).

In the future we hope to conduct further research in order to investigate whether other fields of creativity – for instance, art and science innovation – are stimulated and enhanced by the methods we have used in our small pilot study.

On behalf of The Contemplary, research investigators, Angela Blazley and Anita Milicivic are responsible for the quantitative and qualitative data associated with this study.