Original Research - Special Collection: Studies on the Bible - spirituality and mysticism

Getting to why? Contemplative practice as reflection on intentionality

Francois Wessels
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 1 | a2701 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i1.2701 | © 2015 Francois Wessels | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 April 2014 | Published: 31 August 2015

About the author(s)

Francois Wessels, Life Coach and Narrative Practitioner, Coaches and mentors of South Africa (COMENSA); Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


In my experience, conflict and other forms of being stuck or (as it is commonly referred to in narrative texts) ‘stuckness’ are related to actions, behaviour or events. If we consider a narrative paradigm, they happen in the realm of the Bruner’s ‘landscape of action’. Efforts at escaping these problem-saturated experiences mostly resort to replacing these actions, habits, modes of operation or rules with a different set of rules, without first reflecting on the intentionality or ‘why’ behind the actions. Most often this only serves to perpetuate the problem. This article will attempt to show that alternating between various initiatives in the ‘landscape of action’ provides only temporary respite to the problem, if any; that the intentionality behind these actions needs to be revisited and that contemplative practice facilitate such reflection on intentionality. This is therefore an exercise in reflecting on intentionality or even purpose, that is, a teleological question. This process traverses the dimensions of ‘what’ (actions), ‘how’ (methodology) and ‘why’ (intentionality), referring to the biology of human decision-making in the process of doing so. This article posits that this reflection may be facilitated by contemplative practices such as mindfulness and reflecting on soul.


narrative; intentionality; spirituality; contemplative practice; mindfulness


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