Center for the Advancement of Well-Being
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences

October 21-22, 2011: Writing and the Contemplative Mind Conference


October 2011: Writing and the Contemplative Mind Conference

Come and explore the interface of writing with contemplative and mindfulness practices.  Learn from experienced writers whose lectures and workshops will describe their personal experience with meditation, spirituality, and the contemplative mind.  Meet and learn from writing colleagues who share your interest in how writing is linked to consciousness and transformation.

Dates Friday, October 21, 2011 (2:00 pm) through Saturday, October 22 (3:30 pm)
Location The Mason Inn on the campus of George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Costs (includes tuition, meals, and snacks)
- Through September 30, 2011:  $195
- After September 30, 2011:  $245
- Graduate Student $100
- Student $50
Registration Register Online or Download Registration Form to pay by check

Keynote Presenters will include:

Break-out session topics will include:

  • Introduction to the Progoff Journal Method
  • Deepening Your Practice of Contemplative Methods
  • Using Secularized Zen Koans in Writing

This conference is for you if

  • You are a professional writer and want to deepen the connection between your writing practice and your inner life of reflection and mindfulness.
  • You are an aspiring writer and would like to explore how contemplative practices might help you connect with your writer-within.
  • You are an academician (in any discipline) and you would like to find ways to help your students connect their writing to their inner life of reflection and mindfulness.
  • You are a student and want to explore how contemplative practices could make you a more effective writer.

What you will get out of the conference

  • Inspiration from accomplished writers who have personally explored the ways in which contemplative practices can support and deepen one’s writing practice.
  • Insights about how meditative consciousness can be recognized in works of literature.
  • Practice with specific methods to deepen your own mindfulness or meditation practice.
  • Collegial relationship-building with other writers and aspiring writers who share your interest in contemplative practices.

Conference setting and format

The Mason Inn will be our host facility for "Writing and the Contemplative Mind." This lovely new conference center on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University provides an aesthetically supportive environment for our two-day exploration of writing and one's inner life. Your registration fee for the conference covers tuition, break-time snacks, Friday dinner, Saturday continental breakfast, and Saturday lunch. Although we are past the deadline for guaranteed discounts to conferees, the discount may still be available. Please call the Mason Inn at 703-865-5705, or toll-free at 877-296-6695, and ask for the best room rate for the Writing and Contemplative Mind Conference.

There will be four plenary sessions for keynote presentations by Jane Hirshfield, Alan Cheuse, Michelle Francl, and Mark Thurston.   Several breakout sessions will give you a choice of thematic workshops that deal with specific methodologies for incorporating contemplative practices into your approach to writing.  There will also be sessions to experience a variety of mindfulness and meditation practices, as well as one session for everyone to take time to be alone and actually do some writing.

Conference Schedule

Friday, October 21

  • 2:00 PM Welcome and orientation
  • 2:15 PM Opening keynote: Alan Cheuse "A Cure for the Hypos: Melville, Meditation 
    and the Power of the Fictive Sentence"
  • 3:15 – 3:30 PM Break
  • 3:30 – 5:30 PM 2-Hour Breakout Sessions
    1. Vic Kryston: "Introduction to the Progoff Journal Method"
    2. Mark Thurston: "Methods for Exploring the Contemplative Mind"
    3. Don Gallehr: "Using Secularized Zen Koans in Writing"
    4. Anne Beaufort: "Deepening Writing Practices"

  • 6:00 PM Group Buffet Dinner
  • 7:30 PM Evening Keynote: Jane Hirshfield

Saturday, October 22

  • 7:30 and 8:00 AM Optional meditation sessions
  • 8:00 – 9:00 AM Continental breakfast
  • 9:00 – 10:00 AM Morning keynote: Michelle Francl: "Writing, Contemplative 
    Practices and the Whole Person"
  • 10:15 – 11:15 AM Conversation, questions and answers with Jane Hirshfield
  • 11:15 – Noon Personal Time for Reflective Practice and Writing
  • Noon – 12:30 PM Free time and hotel checkout
  • 12:30 – 1:30 PM Buffet Lunch (with optional table topic discussion groups)
  • 1:30 – 2:15 PM Small groups: Sharing Our Writing (groups of 4)
  • 2:15 – 3:00 PM Closing Keynote: Mark Thurston: "Writing as Calling"
  • 3:00 – 3:15 PM Closing Comments and Next Steps for Networking

Cancellation policy

  • Cancel before September 24, and we will provide you with a full refund minus a $20 handling fee.
  • Cancel between September 24 and October 1, and we will refund you 50%.
  • October 1 and after - sorry, no refunds.

To learn more

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