The first section will introduce the topic of Contemplation and how it relates to us. Also we are going to think about the topic of relaxation, which is really important for effective contemplation.


Like the artist we must practice if we are to learn the Lost Art of Contemplation.

 ballet practice


Pilates and other physical exercise routines may have benefits for helping you to develop the art of relaxation, but they do take practice.


 

How to Get Started

Many people today are seeking spirituality. There is a sense that we are not living according to our potential unless we connect with the divine source of life, creativity and goodness that we call 'God'.
 
For many, spirituality has become an inward journey and Jesus himself said “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
 
Contemplative prayer is about being quiet, in order to focus on the God who is within you. It is not about 'emptying your mind', but about disregarding the outward circumstances for a short while, and relaxing enough to become aware of 'the world inside' you.

So how do I relax?

Activity is very much a coping mechanism. We occupy ourselves with noise and things in order to handle life and avoid the nagging worries and dark thoughts that we all have tucked away.
 
For most of us, as soon as we try to quieten our minds and listen to ourselves, we begin to think of the thousands of things we should be doing!
 
Like the artist we must practice if we are to learn the Lost Art of Contemplation.
The worthwhile things in life never come easily and neither
does Contemplative Prayer. Most artists practice endlessly and most talents are developed and refined through the experiences of trial and error. The same principle implies to the spiritual disciplines. So be encouraged!!!
 
Magazines are full of advice on how to de-stress.  These range from the sensible to the more wacky!  However developing simple relaxation techniques is all that is needed for contemplation.
 
A person who is stressed will struggle to be still in order to relax and unwind. This is why it is necessary to take it in stages.
 
Some of the suggestions here may seem a strange introduction to the art of comtemplation, but relaxation is good for you, and good for beginning the practice of contemplative prayer.
Pilates and other physical exercise routines may have benefits for helping you to develop the art of relaxation, but they do take practice.

Firstly, do relaxing things

It is generally held that people relax in different ways. For some people going to a party helps you unwind because you enjoy the interaction with others, the noise and the activity. Others would find a quiet walk in the park more helpful, or gentle activities such as visiting old places. Some like activities such as sport whilst others find it easy to relax listening to their favourite piece of music.
 
The important thing is that you find what is helpful to you and set time aside to enjoy yourself.  People who find time to enjoy themselves are generally more relaxed and therefore more able to cope with the pressures of ordinary life.
 
If you have problems with this and feel guilty every time you try and relax or enjoy yourself, remember that you are a special person with a unique contribution to make to the world. You can only make this contribution effectively if you are taking good care of yourself. Inability to enjoy life or to concentrate is nature’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Unless we learn to listen to our own bodies we will end up getting burnt out as we struggle with the responsibilities in life.

Some relaxation ideas to prepare for Contemplative Prayer

Find a comfortable position. Experiment with sitting, standing, kneeling, lying down etc.
 
Take some deep breaths. Breath slowly and deeply in through the nose as you count to five, - hold for a moment, then breath out through the mouth, again slowly to the count of five. As you do this, imagine you are breathing in peace and exhaling out frustration and anxiety.
(Do this 3-5 times only. Be quite gentle. Stop if you feel lightheaded.)
 
Think about a beautiful scene. It may help to watch a slideshow of landscapes that appeal to you.
 
Think about a time when you felt warm, relaxed, secure. Take a moment or two to relive that moment.
 
Now you are ready to move on to the next step.

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