Contemplation is a form of prayer and inner knowing. Thomas Merton calls it the intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God's creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life. Contemplation isn't something we do, but rather an explanation or description of how we are transformed from within. St. John of the Cross wrote about this inner transformation in The Dark Night of the Soul. We become emptied and purified by life's trials and experiences. It is in the daily, often unsure, living of our lives when we consent to this process of being transformed, that we can ultimately rest back into our true nature. Here, Wisdom grows, and we recognise ourselves. A daily Contemplative practice helps us surrender moment by moment to this process, and brings us back to Resting in God (St. Gregory The Great).
In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
St. John of the Cross.
- Exercise every day, even if it is a short 15 minute walk. The body needs it.
- Get out into nature, or at least let your eyes visit it. Nature knows balance.
- Have a moment of prolonged silence. Practice meditation or meditative movement. Plan a retreat to immerse deeper into Silence.
- Develop the ability to hear intuitively. Practice listening and receiving. Surrendering is allowing situations to be as they are. Active times move seamlessly into times of retreat and then forward again into action. Move and respond to this rhythm.
- Let music feed your Spirit.
- There is a season for everything. Allow things and people to ebb and flow.
- Know yourself. Forgive your flaws and habitual reactions - they'll probably always be with you. Contemplation brings them to rest. Allow others to have their flaws.
- Laugh, a lot.
- Love. Someone at rest with themselves can love easily.
- Be willing to grieve how little you know, how little power you have, how misunderstood you can be, how painful your circumstances can become. This is purification - the dark night of the soul. Grief transforms into a deep peace and inner knowing.
- Know what anchors you and brings you inner Rest. Consent to it.
- Read sacred enlightened texts daily. Remember and recognise Truth.
- Consent to Spirit/God/Presence within. This is Contemplative Prayer. You are being prayed into Being.
Start thinking about a practice you can manage. Contemplation invites you to make anchoring your practice, and then do it continually. There is no success, no failure. By allowing the current moment to be as it is, Rest is welcomed. You are home.