The English word ‘contemplation’ comes from the combining of the Latin root ‘templum’ meaning a temple, and the prefix ‘con’, meaning with. One might therefore say that the inner meaning of the word is to go into one’s own temple, one’s own sacred inner space. The addition of the prefix ‘con’ however adds an intriguing dimension to our understanding. When we go into our inner being, there is the notion that we are with someone or something. This is the essence of contemplation – that when we look inwards we begin to discover connections. We become merged with the mystery. This may sound mystical, and it is, but it is also something we all know already.
Most of us have already experienced contemplation. In fact, we already know how to do it. Sometimes when we are facing a problem or a challenge in life we find that an answer to our problem spontaneously emerges from within. Perhaps it comes in a dream, or as we lie in bed at night. Answers and insights come to us in many different ways, but we all know and recall these experiences. One purpose of this book is to increase the frequency of these spontaneous rushes of clarity in our lives. We have only to remember that the real answers to our questions and issues all stem from within us. It is that revelation that must saturate our lives.
In today’s fast-paced world, you might worry that you simply won’t be able to find the time to contemplate. The opposite is in fact the case. As you will learn, contemplation happens in the gaps of our lives. It goes on all the time in the background while we are busy, and then when we stop or rest or pause, suddenly something wells up in us as we realise a rare moment of pure being. These magical moments may only last a few seconds, but when we look back on our busy day, you can be guaranteed that those few moments of calm and lucidity seem like an oasis amidst the noise and fury of our daily lives. The art of contemplation will widen out your life by shining a lens on these special moments until you find yourself hungry for more. As you learn the practice, you will also find that everything about your life becomes more efficient. Your body becomes lighter, your emotions come into balance and your mind becomes lucid and clear.
The Three Techniques – Pausing, Pivoting, Merging
The practical essence of this book is given over to three simple techniques that you can learn, refine and master over time. Each of these techniques relates to a potential transformation that contemplation can lead you through. The first technique is called Pausing and it relates to the mind. The second technique is called Pivoting and it relates to the emotions. The third technique is called Merging and it relates to the physical body. These techniques are easy to learn and ideally should be learned in the order they are given. In other words, it’s better to properly grasp Pausing before you move onto Pivoting, since Pivoting naturally evolves as you practise Pausing. Likewise, Merging is more advanced and will flow much more easily once you have fully grasped the first two techniques.
The Three Confirmations – Insight, Breakthrough, Epiphany
As you learn to master the three techniques above, there are three indicators that will assure you that your contemplation practice is working. These are the three confirmations. The first confirmation relates to Pausing and is called Insight, the second confirmation is called Breakthrough and it relates to Pivoting, while the third confirmation, Epiphany, relates to the technique of Merging.
Naturally, as with any new technique, you will need to be diligent and patient before you see the results. However, experience has shown that once you have mastered the first technique of pausing, then the other confirmations will follow naturally and easily in their own time.
Each of the three techniques as well as their confirmations, rewards and applications are described in the three main sections of this book. The epilogue consists of specific techniques and contemplations that can further enhance your practise and help bring the power of contemplation into your daily life.
The Great Reward of Contemplation – Self-Illumination
As you learn the art of contemplation there are many rewards that will come your way. You will feel calmer more of the time and your mind will settle and become clear. Decisions will flow more fluidly in your daily life and your body will remember what it means to relax, which may result in the healing of many old unhealthy patterns. You will naturally be more drawn to things and people that support and serve your evolution, rather than being pulled into difficult and challenging relationships and situations that drain your energy.
Above all, the greatest reward of contemplation is a process known as Self- illumination. Self-illumination refers to a breakthrough or a series of breakthroughs that come about as our practise of contemplation deepens over time. Self-illumination occurs as we let our contemplation wander freely through our life until it alights on something numinous, something that resonates very deeply inside us. When we discover such an image, idea or archetype, we can spend hours, weeks and months contemplating it. The simpler the idea, the deeper it will go in us until one day it simply detonates and we experience self-illumination – an unforgettable state of inner freedom and incandescence.
Using this Book and Course
Despite its short length, this course has hidden depths. Each sentence contains a distilled shard of wisdom. As you piece these many fragments together, you will begin to inhabit the beautiful world of contemplation. Your life will continue on the surface just as it always has, but deep inside you something extraordinary will begin to grow. Perhaps in the beginning you simply need to read the words, and perhaps just a few of them will resonate inside your heart. This is a good beginning. Every time you read a sentence that opens a door inside you, pause for a moment and allow that to percolate. Contemplation, like a rare and fine tea, needs time to steep.
You might like to see your relationship to this little book as a journey. Perhaps you have found it during a period of your life when you really need a trusted guide. If so, this book can walk beside you for a time as you make the transition from one phase of your life to another. It can be a support and a comfort in that way. The book is designed to remind you how to contemplate. So even if you read it from cover to cover in a day or so, that is fine. But you will not easily be able to assimilate its depths in a short time. Contemplation is not a fast art. It is a wonderful, deep, lustrous, slow burn.
You are therefore invited to approach this book as you might approach a new friend. You cannot know someone new in a single, wild rush. You have to meet each other many times. You have to talk, listen, explore, travel together, perhaps argue and disagree at times, until one day you will simply find that you have found a trusted friend for life. So it is with the art of contemplation.
Contemplation in Action
Begin a new habit. At the end of each day, ask yourself this simple question: what was my favourite moment of this day?
Bring that moment back to life with your imagination. Notice similar feelings arising and perhaps lightening your mood. What did you love most about it?
You may wish to take up a note book or journal to capture your reflections.
Realise that it isn’t that hard to create more of those moments in each day. Imagine a day brimming with such moments. This is the life you are now creating for yourself.
Give yourself more of these moments each day before you Mark Complete and move on to the next steps…