Contemplative Meditation

By Jimmy Warden

Are you in a rut in life? Unsure where to go and what to do?

The good news is you’re not the only one. Perhaps that’s not good news, but at least you know other people share that common experience. I know I share that with you.

It is wise to seek out help from people in a situation like this: mentors, therapists, career counselors, friends, or spouses. The challenge with their advice is they aren’t you.

What do I mean by that? I mean, they aren’t you.

They don’t know you the way you know yourself. They don’t know every one of your dreams or aspirations. They don’t know the depth of struggle you’re going through.

Only you know you.

And that’s wonderful.

It’s so wonderful because you have the capabilities of getting yourself out of your rut.

How do you do it?

Enter contemplative meditation.

What is contemplative meditation?

Contemplative meditation is an exercise I learned from holistic health practitioner Paul Chek.

Contemplative meditation requires the meditator to have a pre-planned question they want to ask themselves. The question serves as the driving force of the meditation.

Once the person clears their mind of distractions, they ask the question. Then, they wait. Soon, answers bubble up.

When the answers arise, they notice them, then put them off to the side. Then, they ask the question again and acknowledge what comes up.

They repeat this process as many times as they need to, for however long they want to meditate.

Why ask the same question over and over again?

Asking the same question multiple times elicits a different response after each ask. The first answer to the question is often surface-level that doesn’t contain much depth. It is ego driven

However, asking the question a second, third, or even fourth time helps bring up answers deep within your subconscious. Answers you never thought about before. Answers to the hard questions of life that cannot be solved with our conscious mind.

The contemplative process connects you to your soul and your inner self. A place where not many people go these days. Instead, they settle for answers from the thinking mind.

How can I get started?

Getting started is as simple as the process I laid out. But I’ll also explain other important steps.

Step 1: Find a quiet, comfortable place

This could be your home office, the guest room in your home, or nature. The most important attribute of your location is it needs to be a place where you won’t be distracted. Being comfortable is crucial because you sit or lie down during the meditation.

Step 2: Pick a question you want to contemplate

The purpose of this exercise is to have a question to contemplate. Some examples of questions to ask include the following:

1.) What do I want to improve in my life?
2.) What can I do to bring more joy into my life?
3.) Is my career right for me?

Those are just a few, but you know yourself best, so ask yourself a question you’ve been thinking about for a while. One that can shift the tides of your life.

Step 3: Start to calm your mind with deep, controlled nasal breathing

It is impossible for the mind to stay silent for an extended time, but it can be calmed with nasal breathing, so it’s important to start there.

Start by taking deep breaths in and out through your nose. Notice your stomach expand on the in-breath and contract on the out-breath. Keep your focus there until minimal thoughts are floating around your mind. If you get to a point when the mind is not thinking, that’s even better!

Step 4: Ask yourself the question, then wait

Once the mind is quieter, ask the question, then wait.

Step 5: Notice what thoughts pop up

After the question gets asked, thoughts arise, like lava out of a volcano. Acknowledge them. It’s okay if you don’t acknowledge all of them, so notice what you can.

Step 6: Put the thoughts to the side and repeat steps 4 and 5 at least two more times

Once the thoughts get acknowledged, you can put them to the side. Then, ask the question again. Notice what new thoughts arise.

Are they deeper insights? Are they more profound answers than what you noticed before?

If so, that’s incredible! If not, that’s okay too! Just ask the question a few more times in your session.

Four ideas to keep in mind

1.) Don’t have expectations

If you go into your first contemplative meditation expecting your world to do a 180, you will end up disappointed. Especially if you’re not an experienced meditator.

It takes hours of practice to become ‘good’ at meditation.

Go into it with a beginner’s mind. Curiosity is your ally in this practice because it will keep your mind sharp. Curiosity will notice the thoughts that arise.

2.) Refrain from judging yourself

Judging yourself is not worth your time. Your mind will get negative. It makes meditation more difficult than it is. Save your sanity. Don’t do it.

3.) It’s simple, but it’s not easy

Just because something is simple, it doesn’t make it easy. Meditation is hard. Contemplative meditation is hard. Give yourself some grace, and keep practicing. The more you do, the sharper your skills get.

4.) Have fun!

Contemplative meditation is a way for you to disconnect from the world. It is a technique to connect with yourself. Enjoy that time. Laugh at the hilarious thoughts. Laugh at the tempered thoughts. Smile at the loving thoughts.

So go have fun with it.

Enjoy the ride your mind takes you on.

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