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A Beginner’s Guide to Contemplation

Below are four contemplative practices with step-by-step instructions on how to follow them. If you’d like to start your own practice, but aren’t sure how, try each option and see which one works best for you.

Meditation
Daily meditation can quiet the mind, relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and help reduce anxiety. When we meditate on a passage of Scripture or on a prayer, it can help us cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

1. Find some place quiet and sit down in a comfortable position with your back straight. You may wish to light a candle to represent the presence of the Holy Spirit.
2. Close your eyes and focus on the pattern of your breathing for a minute or two to help you relax.
3. Begin to silently say a prayer-word or mantra to yourself. The Canadian Christian Meditation Community recommends “maranatha.” Recite the word as individual syllables, “ma-ra-na-tha,” gently and quietly. Do this continually for a short length of time; you may wish to set a timer so you don’t become distracted by the clock.
4. If you become distracted, simply return to saying the word. Don’t worry about evaluating how “successful” your time has been.
5. Say a prayer to complete the practice once your time is up.

Walking the Labyrinth
Walking the labyrinth provides time for purposeful prayer, mediation, and reflection. You can choose to pray as you walk or sing and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings; this is a time to approach God with an open heart, ready to receive God’s wisdom.

1. Before you enter the labyrinth, pause and focus your thoughts and intention.
2. Find a comfortable pace; there’s no need to rush, but you don’t have to walk at a snail’s pace either.
3. Walk to the centre of the labyrinth. Use this time to let go of your burdens.
4. Once you reach the centre you may want to pause – sitting, standing, or kneeling – for a moment of reflection.
5. When you’re ready, walk the reminder of the path to the exit. Use this time to be thankful for God’s gifts and support.
6. As you exit the labyrinth, end your practice with a prayer or a song.

Centering Prayer
Also known as Contemplative Prayer, Centering Prayer can trace its roots back to fourth century monk St. John Cassian and has a more contemporary advocate in Trappist monk Thomas Merton. Centering Prayer is meant to augment other types of prayer by adding depth to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Centering prayer opens us up to God’s presence and word. Set aside 20 minutes for this practice, though those who are new may want to start with five minutes and work their way up to 20.

1. Sit comfortably and quietly with your eyes closed.
2. Choose and silently say a sacred word or short phrase to represent your openness and consent to God’s presence, like “Abba,” “love,” or “come Lord.”
3. You do not have to continually repeat the word or phrase, but come come back to it anytime you become distracted.
4. End your practice by bowing in place or saying a short prayer of thanks.

Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina is an ancient Benedictine practice of reading the scriptures. The purpose of Lectio Divina is to hear the word of God, and understand what God is saying to you, through the reading.

1. Read: Choose a passage of Scripture. Read it aloud at least twice through.
2. Respond: Pay attention to words or phrases that stand out to you and the images or feelings that arise from them.
3. Pray: Respond to the text by praying through the what you have learned.
4. Contemplate: Rest in silence to absorb what you have learned.

 

 

 

 

Kyla Neufeld is the Editor of the Rupert’s Land News.