Are you struggling with receiving insight for making big decisions? In that case, practicing contemplative meditation can help you get into deep thought and find the answer you are looking for.
Similar to Christian contemplative prayer, although the not the same, contemplative meditation also deals with deep thinking from a spiritually centered observation, which could even be a religious image. Before getting into the details of this meditation technique, let’s find out more about what it actually embodies.
Understanding Contemplative Meditation
Contemplative meditation deals with what is already in its name – contemplation. So to understand contemplative meditation, let’s first find out what contemplation actually is.
What is Contemplation?
Contemplation means to involve in the process of deep thinking of a certain matter in order to understand it or find an inner meaning. A more interesting fact is that the word “contemplation” is combined from Latin words, which translates to “with temple”.
Based on the root meaning, it shows that contemplation is a more spiritually derived action as opposed to meditation, which deals with a more systematic approach to thinking.
What is Contemplative Meditation?
The word meditation has also been derived from Latin, which means to reflect. Contemplative meditation thus means to reflect over events in life from a sacred place. This type of meditation technique helps to give a fresh perspective on different aspects of life while the meditator is looking for valuable insight on those situations.
How to Practice Contemplative Meditation
There are several ways in which you can practice contemplative meditation. Each way will involve some sort of divine observation one way or the other. We have brought forth five ways to perform contemplative meditation.
But before we get into the different methods, there are some initial exercises you must complete first. Here is what you will need to do:
First: Slow down and take a breath
For the first stage of contemplative meditation, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Your seated position should involve a straight but relaxed spine. Then take some focused breaths, making sure that they are slow and steady.
Second: Seek what you need
Now you have to purposefully engage in deep thought and focus on the questions you have. Direct those questions to the higher power you have chosen to meditate towards, and ask for insight.
Once you’ve completed these, you can go onto practicing your contemplative meditation through any of the following 5 ways.
5 Different Ways to Practice Contemplative Meditation
1. Through Divine Observation
The most common religions have some way to connect to the higher power through contemplation. Similarly, you can practice contemplative meditation by studying things that are divine in nature. Here are the steps:
- Concentrate on some sort of religious image – it can be sacred passage, an idol, etc. And then think of your own idea of godliness.
- Focus on how that image is personified within your mind. For example, it can be a certain feeling, or a mental picture, etc.
- As the final step, take mind to focus on the image or feeling you have created that represents divinity. In this way, your meditation is occurring with your focused deliberation through inner listening.
2. Contemplation meditation on an object
Aside from meditating against divine forms, you can also center your contemplative meditation on a certain object. You can start as follows:
- Pick an object which holds sacredness in its true meaning for you. It can be a meditative crystal, something from nature (e.g. the sun, moon, a tree, etc.), or anything you want.
- Focus purely and only on the object itself. Do not let your mind leave the present moment of the object.
- When your feelings are solely concentrated on the object in mind, your mind conceives the reality of that object. This way, you are using your mindfulness to manifest the object in your head, which in turn helps you in receiving insight.
3. Meditate on a spiritual text
Basing contemplative meditation on spiritual text such as a Bible passage, sacred words of a leader, excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita, etc. is a very common practice. Christian meditation methods follow this method a lot.
This method is specially if you have never meditated before, or if you are just looking for mindfulness practice. Follow these steps:
- Pick a spiritual text that really syncs with your soul.
- Find a quiet place and sit down.
- Follow steady breathing techniques to calm yourself down.
- After observing silence in your surroundings, read the sacred words or spiritual text out loud.
- Give complete attention to the meaning of those words, focusing on how you imagine the depiction of it, how those words affect your feelings, what it would sound like, and so on. Your contemplation thus transforms into a contemplative meditation technique.
- As you continue with the practice, allow the spiritual text to reveal itself to you as it may. Don’t try to look for its true meaning, but let the true meaning of the sacred word come to you naturally.
Although meditation techniques centering prayer are a common Christian tradition, it is not necessarily a religious practice in itself. So even if you don’t believe in a higher power and are just looking for easy meditation techniques, this is the method you should try first.
A few other things to keep in mind for this meditation method are:
- You can practice this with a mantra or sacred word as well. Father Thomas Keating, a renowned Catholic monk, has suggested to use “God” or “Jesus” as the sacred word for Christian contemplation meditation.
- This is one of the best contemplative meditation techniques, as it has been found to be most effective and allows better focused deliberation.
4. Contemplative breathing
This is a Buddhist technique involving focused breaths to relax the mind. These are what you will need to do:
- Center your attention to your breath only. This will release endorphins and make you happy.
- Next, focus on that happiness.
- In the third stage, observe how the happiness state of mind erases thoughts on negativity and bad feelings.
- Then in the final stage, focus on how different thoughts and feelings are in constant transition as they come and go.
This might seem like one of the simpler forms of meditation techniques, but it is one of the most powerful. Focusing on breath allows you to remain in the present moment and carry on with contemplative practices.
Not only will this improve your physical health, but will do wonders for your spiritual life as well. Another great thing about this is that you can easily achieve this meditation practice without resorting to monastic life.
5. Contemplation meditation for reflection
This type of contemplative meditation is also a Buddhist technique which dates back to the 13th century. These are the steps you will need to follow:
- Sit comfortably with a good posture. But make sure you are relaxed as well.
- Bring down your chin towards, so that you feel a pull at the back of your neck.
- Rest the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
- Now close your eyes and mouth.
- Select any object and focus deeply on it without letting your mind wander.
- Focus your thoughts and feelings on how the object is outside of you, and then imagine it existing towards you. The mindfulness you are giving to the object should not move away.
- Release any focused deliberation of your thoughts and feelings for the object. Let the object exist as it is.
- Stay in the present moment and practice the mindfulness meditation, that this is the only object that exists in the world.
This rational exploration circling a certain object trains the mind to reflect and go into deep thought. As a result, you are left in a contemplative state of mind, which will assist you get self reflection through a meditation practice.
Benefits of Contemplative Meditation
Advantages you can achieve from contemplative meditation practice include:
- Being able to make important decisions much easier
- Increased deep thinking and self reflection
- Unlock hidden and underlying thoughts and feelings which hold significance
- Help to deliver valuable insight regarding tough situations in your daily life you can’t fully understand or decide on
- Improve mental and physical health
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Strong and improved contemplative life
Commonly thought to be linked directly to Christian mysticism or Buddhist practices, contemplative meditation does not necessarily rely on those. It is mostly about practicing mindfulness in silence in order to receive better understanding and guidance of different life situations.
Contemplative meditation allows you to dig deeper into yourself through divine observation, sacred text, and objects that are important to you. Once you realize how big of a difference focused breaths can make, you are one step closer to mastering different meditation techniques.