The Contemplative Leaders Group

A 7-Step Mindfulness Process
for Contemplative Leaders

The purpose of the Santa Barbara Contemplative Leadership Program is to support community leaders who are dedicated to improving regional initiatives in such areas as social justice, environmental sustainability, healthcare and education.  The program will help leaders to develop a shared contemplative practice and to engage in an open-source, non-sectarian, collaborative inquiry.  This process will deepen our personal perspectives and relationships and rejuvenate our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.  Through our gatherings, readings, website and mobile app we will integrate core values and purposes into our personal and professional lives.

This program will be based on a universal, non-sectarian 7-step contemplative process called “InterSpiritual Meditation” that is drawn from practices of the world’s secular and spiritual traditions.  The seven steps include: 1. Motivation, 2. Gratitude, 3. Transformation, 4. Compassion, 5. Mindfulness, 6. Wisdom, 7. Service.  This contemplative process was gathered by Dr. Ed Bastian in his books and online courses and have been taught to students throughout the America and the world. Participants will be invited to engage in our mobile app, website content and courses as desired.

Our offerings are organized into a combination of activities designed to fit into the challenging schedules of twelve to twenty local nonprofit leaders. Participants will engage in weekly meditations and will have access to the mobile app, books and web-based tools, readings, meditations, and journaling. They will discern ways that their contemplative practice, compassion and wisdom can be infused into their work and their relationships with those who depend on their leadership.  Periodic surveys and evaluations will help us determine the effectiveness of our program and ways to improve upon it.

(1) Weekly Guided Meditation Offering

France, with the support of Bastian, will invite and lead our group of environmental and social leaders. This hybrid (online & in person) weekly contemplative offering will be open to all members of the cohort. Weekly meditations on the seven steps will include conversation about each step and how these steps can support each leader achieve their personal and professional objectives.

(2) Monthly Group Hikes
We will gather monthly for group hikes into the silence of beautiful local environments to build community, meditate, converse about the seven steps and explore the big questions that humans have pondered for thousands of years. These nature-based gatherings will help build a mutually supportive community for shared contemplative practices and work together.

(3) Discussion Groups/ Book Club
This will be a hybrid space for deeper conversations about our contemplative practices, our questions and insights on the themes of ISM and the Mandala process. This invitation for deeper, open-source spiritual inquiry will provide a profound context for our personal and organizational work. We will share the challenges we are now facing and how this process enhances the wellbeing of ourselves and our organizations

This program will be coordinated by Ed France, Executive Director of “Leading from Within” and Dr. Ed Bastian, President of the “Spiritual Paths Foundation.” Our collaborative, inclusive approach honors a diversity of perspectives, ethnicity, race, gender orientation and learning styles.
Our process is informed by two decades of non-profit leadership development work, including the courage and renewal work of Parker Palmer and the wisdom gained by Ed Bastian in his five decades of close work with over fifty leading thinkers and exemplars from diverse secular and spiritual traditions.

Ed France
Ed brings twenty years of experience in the not for profit/ social sector as a volunteer, social entrepreneur and non-profit executive. Ed serves as the Executive Director of Leading from Within. He led the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition for twelve years, has three years of experience working in local government with the City of Santa Barbara, and eleven years serving on City Advisory committees. He is a proud alumnus of UCSB’s Environmental Studies program. Ed has been a practitioner of InterSpiritual Meditation for the last three years and has led weekly group meditations since the beginning of the pandemic. He believes that ISM offers a great way to develop a holistic mindfulness practice and that this is an invaluable tool for anyone engaged in community work.

Ed Bastian
Ed holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies and has been a Trustee for the United Religions Initiative (URI) Global Council, President of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara, board member of Showers of Blessing, and the founding President of the Spiritual Paths Foundation.  He developed InterSpiritual Meditation and the Mandala Process during his five decades of research, study, and teaching with over fifty esteemed teachers from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, and Native American traditions. He is the award-winning author of Living Fully Dying Well, author of InterSpiritual Meditation, Mandala: A Process for Creating an Authentic Spiritual Path, Meditations for InterSpiritual Wisdom, and producer of award-winning documentaries on religion for the BBC and PBS.  He was a Fulbright fellow for research in India and residence in Tibetan Buddhism monasteries.  He is the former co-director of the Forum on BioDiversity for the Smithsonian Institution and National Academy of Sciences, teacher of Buddhism and world religions at the Smithsonian, an internet business entrepreneur, and translator of Buddhism scriptures from Tibetan into English. He serves on the faculty of Antioch University, Chaplaincy Institute, One Spirit Interfaith, and has led programs at numerous retreat centers throughout North America including La Casa de Maria in Montecito.


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