The foundations of humanistic psychology were forged within a community that had
great interest in transforming the world into a much more loving and just place.
Humanistic psychology can be said to have prized the beautiful and unique worlds of
individuals and groups of people from its very beginning, although the tradition also had
trouble finding ways to fully embody this ethos in action and commitment (Hoffman,
Cleare-Hoffman, & Jackson, 2014).
Recent endorsements, however, by the Society for Humanistic Psychology have further
anchored our tradition within the context of social justice. We can see evidence of a
growing zeitgeist within humanistic psychology to make it more explicitly loving and
helpful to the aims of social justice movements.
Humanistic psychology has also been concerned with appreciating the contemplative
practices and methods that cultures have developed over millennia to nurture the love
and wisdom innate to all human beings, subsequently implemented in Humanistic ways
of being-with clients in therapy. Contemplative practices can be seen as ways to
encourage this innate human capacity (Wickramasekera II, 2016). Humanistic
psychologists such as Stanley Krippner, Shauna Shapiro, Charles Tart, and Roger
Walsh have spent decades exploring how contemplative methods like meditation can
encourage an understanding of the nature of the ‘self’, while also enhancing our
embodiment of love and wisdom. These humanistic researchers, and others, led the
way for an explosion of research on mindfulness meditation which demonstrated the
power of contemplative methods to help heal the body, mind, and spirit of people with
physical, psychological, and spiritual challenges (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006).
But what can contemplative practices do to further encourage embodied wisdom in the
context of social justice? Recently, new contemplative methods have been designed to
join social justice perspectives with humanistic ideas about the self (Manuel, 2015;
Williams, Owens, & Syedullah, 2016). Our conference this year will celebrate these
ideas and practices, examining how humanistic psychology and contemplative traditions
can inform global viewpoints of social justice, humanistic psychotherapies, and love.