What are the fruits of contemplation? Why should we bother? There are several reasons to enter into contemplation.
1. For Christians, we are told to pray unceasingly. The question is how? One answer is to engage in Centering Prayer, choosing a particular word/phrase upon which to center our intention to be with God. A regular practice of Centering prayer will result in constant repetitions even while engaged in other activities so that we are constantly reminded God is with us.
2. Direct communication with God–Ignatian Prayer of the Senses. This is a technique where we read and focus upon a sacred writing (Scripture), and imagine ourselves in the process. By so doing, we are seeking God’s presence to enrich our minds, saturating our minds with what is holy–with what brings healing and life to us.
3. Another means of direct communication is the practice of Lectio Divina which is repetitive reading of Scripture with our “ear” open to hear a particular word or phrase that speaks to us personally.
4. Do we live in an environment full of distractions? Seneca, Roman philosopher, said “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” Contemplation is particularly relevant for people today what with the advent of media–texting, tweeting, constant cell-phoning…Such distractions keep us superficial, always on the surface of being, never recognizing we are rooted in God.
5. Women are often pleasers–that’s what we’ve been taught; it is a difficult thing to recognize the need to go deeper than being dutiful; contemplation is a means to discover what else God might have in store for us.
6. A regular practice of contemplation is also a means of emotional healing of precognitive wounds. Thomas Keating in his book Invitation to Love tells us our brains are like bio-computers. Infants in an unwelcoming environment (or just not fully accepted, including in the womb)–because their biological need for security has not been met have an emotional hesitation to accept the adventure of life. They become fearful individuals… Two-year-olds seek pleasure, affection and esteem and begin to self integrate, wanting their own way–but this requires a supportive loving environment where they are guided and protected–children surrounded by war, epidemics, destitution, starvation, poor parenting, etc. cannot consent to the goodness and beauty of life. Psycho therapy can help, but cannot heal the deeper precognitive wounds.
Eg. A macho young man drinks his friends under the table–for him this makes him feel powerful, better, bigger, important, a success. This is short lived because once he defeats one group of guys he’s outdrank, he must go to the next tavern…in a never ending cycle which does not get to the root of his need. The macho young man may even experience a Christian conversion, wanting to stop his behavior, and he decides to become a monk. So off he goes to the monastery. He becomes extreme, praying all the time while he’s not working, doing everything above and beyond…
What has really changed for him? Now he is fasting all the monks under the table. He hasn’t got to the essence of his problems. The only way for that to happen is by inviting God into the depths of his being.
Contemplation is a way to restore ourselves to become fully integrated human beings. Only then can we truly become present to others in ways that heal families, communities, and nations.
Ultimately, the goal of contemplation is to become united with God in the deepest possible way–so we are completely Christ-centered, so that our uniqueness rings forth, or quietly trickles, or explodes (this will be revealed by God) in ways that will bring about the New Jerusalem, a world of peace, love, harmony, equity, justice, hope…