THE ART OF CONTEMPLATION INTRO – 1
Contemplation is defined as the act of thinking deeply or looking carefully at something. It is also considered a type of meditation that can lead one to insights about their own nature and the true nature of reality. In contemplative exercises, questions are presented without providing any answers. It is up to the practitioner to commit to sit and think carefully about the question, consider possible answers, and think about why they may have given one answer and not another. Through contemplation, we learn about ourselves and gain understanding into the inner workings of our own mind.
While one should sit and think about the questions, I find the most effective way to practice contemplation is through journaling. Write the question down and explore it at the speed of writing. This tends to slow the mind down and makes writing less the documentation of an answer and more of a tool that allows one to process the information more deeply, oftentimes leading to answers that are surprisingly different from the initial ideas about the question. It is this process of self-discovery that leads to a clearer understanding of oneself and paves the way for making changes in one’s way of thinking; in one’s way of doing things.
I will start this series on contemplative meditation this week, so get a journal, pen, and commit to finding your own answers about life in a bold act of self-reliance. Please pass this blog along to anyone you think might be interested. Sharing and leaving comments is always appreciated.
*The contemplative meditation exercises are philosophical in nature and areligious, making them accessible and applicable to persons of all faiths and belief systems.
What Is Real?
Reality is defined as something that has the quality or state of being real.
Look around you. What is real? Take a few minutes to write about your daily reality. How do you know if something is real? How do you know if something is not real? What is the difference between the two?
Contemplate everything you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. Is our reality the total sum of these sensory experiences?
After you finish exploring these questions, turn to the next page in your journal and draw a big circle across two pages. Fill it up with all the real things in your life. Do not write anything that is imaginary, or not real. Put your family, living space, vehicle, clothes, food, yard, trees, streets, rivers, mountains, etc. This circle is a representation of your world, so fill it up with everything you know to be real. What do all the things in your circle have in common? If you’re feeling bold, you may keep a list of the things that are a part of your daily life that are not real.
An Imaginary World
After spending some time contemplating reality, it only makes sense to spend some time thinking about the imaginary phenomena present in our daily lives. It can be difficult to distinguish the imaginary things in our world. Finding what is not real requires discernment and takes effort.
For example, we know a television show does not represent reality, but it is created using real actors, directors, cameras, lighting, etc. So which part of it is not real? Spend some time thinking and writing about the boundary that separates the real from the imaginary.
Where does the imaginary exist? How is its existence different from things that are real? What is the relationship between the two and what are the advantages and disadvantages of spending time in each realm?
How much time do you spend each day escaping reality and living in the imaginary?