The latest programs, events and offerings from Shalem Institute.
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Contemplative Grounding in the Midst of Overwhelming Challenges

by Margaret Benefiel

In the face of bitter political division, environmental degradation, police shooting of black men and shooting of police, the refugee crisis, wars, world hunger, and international political tensions, I sometimes find myself feeling helpless and even hopeless. Over dinner with friends, when the topic turns to such matters, we find ourselves hand-wringing. What can one person do in the face of these impossible challenges?

Well-educated, well-meaning, and well-funded people analyze these problems. They intervene and offer solutions. Sometimes they make progress. At other times, their efforts prove counterproductive. As Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer, co-authors of Leading from the Emerging Future, point out, the rational, analytical mind reaches its limit in the face of complex, intractable problems. Scharmer and Kaufer offer an alternative, “Theory U,” which takes people to a deeper level of knowing, to a place of discernment from which transformation can occur. Other thought leaders like Margaret Wheatley, Ronald Heifetz, and Peter Senge have also discovered the need for this deeper level of knowing out of which transformation emerges.
Seeing thought leaders in the wider world discover contemplative grounding for their work reinforces for me that the gift of contemplative awareness is desperately needed in our time. While education and analytical expertise are important and useful, experts need the larger context of contemplative grounding in order to be effective over the long haul. Rational analysis alone keeps the practitioner living out of ego. Deep contemplative grounding puts gifts and training at the disposal of the greater good. Prayer frees one to give what and where it’s needed. Prayer frees one to let go when the rational mind can’t find a solution, and to let deeper wisdom emerge. Prayer leads to more effective leadership. Indeed, prayer changes history.

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Oct 5-26 Contemplative Leadership Seminar
Oct 12, 19, 26, Nov 2 - Guided Prayer Sessions on US Elections
Oct 9-13 Shalem Society Gathering
Oct 30 - Dec 4 Living Word, Living Way - online
Oct 31 - Early bird deadline, Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program
Nov 6 - Contemplative Voices Award honoring Constance Fitzgerald
Nov 30 - Early bird deadline, Spiritual Guidance Program

Soul of Leadership Program - The Soul of Leadership recognizes that leaders today face particularly difficult challenges. The commitment to inspire others while also increasing productivity and balancing the needs of the organization can leave leaders feeling depleted. Long hours and countless demands often result in a deep need for renewal. There are programs in Boston, England and Tennessee. 
Click here to read more.

Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program - This program is designed to equip, encourage and support those called to lead spiritual groups and retreats. Its focus is on nurturing deeper communion with God, contemplative awareness of Gods presence, and an openness to letting God guide. The early bird application deadline is October 31. Click here to read more.

Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program - This program offers both academic resources and experiential support for the ministry of spiritual direction or holy listening. At the heart of this program is the radical conviction that spiritual companionship is a form of prayer and that contemplative listening comes from being grounded in ones relationship with God. The early bird application deadline is November 30. Click here to read more.

Going Deeper: Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership Program - Although our other Shalem programs connect with certain dimensions of congregational spiritual leadership and many clergy participate in them, none give the context of the local church as the explicit and shared focus as this program does. Going Deeper is for clergy of all denominations and geographic locations who serve on the staffs of local churches or whose ministry involves the local church. Click here to read more.

Do you yearn to explore a way of leading that is more aligned with your heart?

Join other leaders in this online seminar as together we reflect on the invitation to contemplative leadership, a countercultural practice grounded in deep listening and compassion. Through content videos and audio, Leah Rampy will help explore compassion and power as dimensions of contemplative leadership and will offer a space for reflection, contemplative practice and sharing with other leaders.

Dates: Access material anytime between October 5 and October 26, 2016.
Cost: $150. (Group discounts available!)

Register now!

Do you desire support and enrichment for your prayer life?  
Do you wish to develop or deepen a consistent spiritual practice?

Join Patience Robbins as she guides you through the use of lectio divina, walking meditation, the practice of gratitude and intercessory prayers. Whether you feel like a beginner or want to deepen a particular practice; whether you want to explore new ways of praying or are seeking the support of like-spirited others in an online setting – this course offers something for you.

Dates: This six-week online course runs October 30 to December 4, 2016.
Cost: $75. (Group discounts available!)

Register now!

Contemplative Voices Award honoring Constance FitzGerald


Constance FitzGerald, OCD, is a contemplative theologian and a member of the Carmelite Community in Baltimore where she has served as prioress, formation director, archivist/historian and treasurer. She was a founder of the Association of Contemplative Sisters in the US and a founding member of the Carmelite Forum, a group of scholars dedicated to opening contemplative prayer and life to people through the contemporary interpretation of the Carmelite classics.

Connie has devoted her intellectual life to the explication and interpretation of the writings of the great Carmelite mystics, with a special predilection for Saint John of the Cross.

This is a special fundraising event to celebrate contemporary contemplative voices and to support the work of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.

Light refreshments will be served and guests will receive a complimentary copy of Sister Constance’s “Impasse and Dark Night.”

Date: Sunday, November 6, 2016, 4-6 PM
Location: Founders’ Hall, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, MD
Cost: $60 suggested donation.

Sign up here

Gerald May Seminar with Mirabai Starr
The Passion of the Mystics: A Contemplative Journey

Mirabai Starr, MA, is an author, translator of the mystics, and a leading voice in the emerging inter-spiritual movement. She speaks and teaches nationally and internationally on the teachings of the mystics, contemplative practice and the transformational power of grief and loss.

She is known for building bridges not only between religious traditions but also between contemplative life and compassionate service, between cultivating an inner relationship with the Beloved and expressing that intimacy in community, between the transformational power of loss and longing for the sacred. Join us for this engaging weekend conference!

Friday, April 28, 2017, 7-9 PM
The Friday night lecture will draw on the works of the great Christian mystics and more.

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 10 AM-4 PM
In the Saturday workshop, we will read short passages from the works of the great Christian mystics and respond to writing prompts to access our unique voice and deepen our personal journey. Inter-spiritual chanting and simple body practices will support and balance our contemplative readings and writing exercises.

Register here

Weekly Guided Prayer Sessions for the US Elections

Shalem will offer weekly, guided meditations during October as a way of joining together in prayer for our world leaders and, in particular, for holding in prayer the US elections in November.
These half-hour prayer times, led by Patience Robbins, will be by conference call on Wednesdays at noon, EST.  We invite you to join in this opportunity for prayer together – a prayer of love, harmony and compassion surrounding the United States and the world.  The sessions will be recorded so that you can access them at other times during the week. You may listen to the prayer session from October 5 here.
The upcoming dates are October 12, 19, 26 and November 2, and the conference call information will be provided when you send us your email by clicking below.

Click here to receive information on how to join the calls.

Seeking Oneness with Creation on Pilgrimage

Shalem Pilgrims at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on Shalem's Pilgrimage to the Pacific Northwest, September 2016. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more pilgrimage photos.

Margaret's Travels

Follow our Executive Director, Margaret Benefiel, as she hits various spots around the world!

Margaret's upcoming schedule:

Oct 8, Northampton, MA. 2-5:30pm. RSVP here.

Nov 17, Houston, TX. 3-5:30pm.

Friends of Shalem

Center for Spiritual Deepening, Alexandria VA, offers:
Mature Spirituality
September 28, 2016
Co-Creating the Cosmos
Every Thursday in October
The Spirituality of Parenting
October 26, 2016

Visit for more info.

Racial Awareness and Mindfulness Festival of the Arts, Awareness, and Justice
This mini-festival intends to help people of good will reflect on the remaining reality of racism in our society through the arts, while also providing practical approaches to addressing the reality of race and privilege and its systemic effects through experiential workshops.
October 15, 2016 

Visit the event page for more info.

Friends of St. Benedict
Symposium on Benedictine Spirituality
November 4-5, 2016

Click here for more information.

More From Shalem:

Giving a gift to Shalem has never been easier! Simply select Shalem as the charitable organization of your choice before you begin shopping.
More details
Pilgrimage to Paris 
A contemplative pilgrimage to Paris allows us to slow down and savor the presence of the Holy. March 21-30 2017.
Learn more
Pilgrimage to Assisi
Come with us to the awe-inspiring town of Assisi where pilgrims have sought wisdom for centuries. May 10-20, 2017
Learn more
Share Shalem’s vital ministry of spiritual deepening—become a Shalem donor today!

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