Saturday, December 28, 2013

Contemplation Helps the Mind

Spiritual practices such as centering prayer and contemplative prayer help us become aware of what our minds are up to. We are rarely aware of the habitual thinking patterns we live in, day in and day out. The result is that we often live at the mercy of these patterns. Special methods are often necessary in growing in awareness. This helps us present ourselves more fully and honestly before God.

One of the ways I have found to be helpful in this area is sitting in silence and solitude for a set period of time on a daily basis. This practice helps me 1) become aware of what I’m thinking and feeling and 2) turn my mind toward God. The following reflection by Richard Rohr has proven itself to be true in my own experience. Let me know what your thoughts are, dear reader.

Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form, without filters, judgments, and commentaries. Now you see why it is so rare and, in fact, “the narrow road that few walk on” (Matthew 7:14). The only way you can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing your own compulsive mental grids—your practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, and computing everything.

This is what we are trying to do by practicing contemplative prayer, and people addicted to their own mind will find contemplation most difficult, if not impossible. Much that is called thinking is simply the ego’s stating of what it prefers and likes—and resistances to what it does not like. Narcissistic reactions to the moment are not worthy of being called thinking. Yet that is much of our public and private discourse.

When your mental judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to you, because your pettiness is at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed! You will begin to recognize that we all carry the Divine Indwelling within us and we all carry it equally. That will change your theology, your politics, and your entire worldview. In fact, it is the very birth of the soul.

Adapted from CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call to Compassionate Action
(Bias from the Bottom) and Contemplative Prayer

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