Contemplation teaches you to think about thinking and may be the highest form of intelligence that we have. It is a dance with the physical, psychological, and the spiritual and has a tendency to heal people and then transform them. Many equate it to prayer or meditation. You might be surprised, however, to discover that you can practice contemplation while mindfully washing dishes, singing, being with a friend, or walking in a park.
Contemplation is simply being fully present in heart, mind, and body, to what is in a way that allows you to creatively respond and work toward what could be. Contemplation is both personal and communal, internal and external. It helps us let go of our usual, self-focused way of thinking and doing things so that our compassionate, connected, and creative self can emerge. Through contemplation, we develop the capacity to witness our egoic motivations, bringing this awareness into our day-to-day actions and living with increased freedom and authenticity through deeper awareness of self, others, and God.
What is contemplation about? Well, imagine for a moment that you could be all-knowing. Where would that get you? Although we can’t be all-knowing like God is, we can benefit from knowledge and wisdom. The more we have, the more we will benefit in all areas of our lives. So let’s not underrate it! At the very least, it is a kind of self-actualization and God realization at depth.
What is the Contemplative Mind?
Contemplation is the nature of reality as you may never have experienced it before. The flood of technology and knowledge has made depression, trauma, and stress worse. It has decreased our sustainable performance in every area of life, from careers and family to even affecting the military. PTSD, trauma, stress, and personality disorders are deeper issues that modern-day life has imposed on us as a generation, and they are causing us to battle more and more to cope each year. Moving out of survival mode is how the next generation will self-regulate and thrive. If you reimagine yourself beyond the self-concept and persona you have created, you can get rid of all the things that don’t work for you anymore. Many of us have learned to live with what we don’t like: the unhealthy habits, the depressive or anxious bouts, the obsessive thinking, and terrible sleep patterns. We have almost forgotten that a large part of life is about starting again. That’s what Contemplative Intelligence (CQ) offers—the chance to reimagine your reality and create the life you really want.
Stress is not bad for us. In fact many people thrive off of stress. It is our response to stress that is what is important. If you’re metaphorically leaving your hand on a hot stove it can cost you your health, your sanity and your quality of life. The course will teach you about the bigger picture. It will expand and then free your mind, which is just another organ in our bodies. Who am I really, is a question that must be re-examined later on in life, when we have moved out of childhood. If we do not answer this and other simple questions posed to us by life, depression, pain and other forms of suffering come to help us shift, reconnect and grow. This is the journey and the adventure that is your return to your Sacred Self.
Embracing the mysterious
Contemplation encompasses embracing the mysterious, not just the known. Contemplation is a mindset that can shift us from a survival to a thrive mind. It is thinking about thinking. Contemplation is the highest expression of our intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that is alive. It can help us heal, grow and enrich our lives pretty much like yoga, a good online course, a book or a profound life-experience can. Thomas Merton, a famous Monk who used the Power of The Power of Contemplative Intelligence (CQ) Page 80 Contemplation a lot said “It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant source”.
20 Definitions of Contemplation
To understand what Contemplation is let us explore these characteristics that define the practice that helps us go beyond the thriving of the ordinary mind to a sacred place that we arrive at and then thrive in.
Once you learn the language of contemplation you are able to begin to see the common denominators in all things as separation slowly disintegrates. Contemplation is the end of two.
- Contemplation is a prayer of the heart, more so than a prayer of the mind.
- Contemplative practices are practical, radical, and transformative, developing capacities for deep concentration and quieting the mind in the midst of the action and distraction that fills everyday life.
- It is universally relational.
- Contemplation is a way — a way of seeing, a way of praying, a way of beholding, a way of wondering — of meditating, of musing, of recognising.
- Contemplation is beyond personality and ego defences Contemplation: it is a way of seeing, but also a way of thinking, a school of knowledge, a path of formation and discipline.
- Contemplation is self-inquiry. Contemplation is the concentration on spiritual things that manifests mystical awareness.
- Contemplation is re-looking, re-feeling and re-experiencing everything in the present moment rather than from mind and memory.
- Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form Contemplation is a way to keep the mind free from confusion and in clarity, even when there is chaos around you. Poetry, music, art, the abstract and eccentric are also understood better through contemplation.
- Contemplation grounds people into empathy by eliminating the ego identities separation perspective.
- Contemplation is the response to a universal call that is beyond words. It is coming to know your true self, their true self and every other living thing’s true self and how it is all in divine relationship to the entire world without exclusion.
11. It is our rainbow bridge to a more radical and inclusive understanding of God, self, and others.
12. Contemplative practices are practical, radical, and transformative, developing capacities for deep concentration and quieting the mind in the midst of the action and distraction that fill everyday life. It is universally relational.
13. Contemplation is a way—a way of seeing, a way of praying, a way of beholding, a way of wondering—of meditating, of musing, of recognizing.
14. Contemplation is beyond personality and ego defences.
15. Contemplation: it is a way of seeing, but also a way of thinking, a school of knowledge, a path of formation and discipline. Contemplation is self-inquiry.
16. Contemplation is the concentration on spiritual things that manifests mystical awareness.
17. Contemplation is re-looking, re-feeling, and re-experiencing everything in the present moment rather than from mind and memory.
18. Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form.
19. Contemplation is a way to keep the mind free from confusion and in clarity, even when there is chaos around you. Poetry, music, art, the abstract, and eccentric are also understood better through contemplation.
20. Contemplation grounds people into empathy by eliminating the ego identities’ separation perspective. Contemplation is the response to a universal call that is beyond words. It is coming to know your true self, their true self, and every other living thing’s true self and how it is all in divine relationship to the entire world without exclusion.
Contemplation as Scientific Inquiry
Contemplative science allows for a deeper understanding of mental phenomena, including a wide range of states of consciousness. Its emphasis on strict mental discipline counteracts the effects of cognitive imbalances such as intention and desire, as well as attentional, and affective imbalances. Contemplative Science, a term coined by Dr. B Alan Wallace, acts as a bridge between the empirical study of the science of consciousness and the subjective, experiential study of consciousness through contemplation. The Power of Contemplative Intelligence (CQ), Page 81.
The science of consciousness introduces first-person methods of investigating the mind, employing Buddhist contemplative techniques such as samatha, which is an organized and detailed system for training attention. In a similar way to how scientists make observations and conduct experiments with the aid of technology, contemplatives have long tested their own theories using highly developed meditative skills of observation and experimentation.
Contemplative science allows for a deeper understanding of mental phenomena, encompassing a wide range of states of consciousness. Its emphasis on strict mental discipline counteracts the effects of cognitive imbalances such as intention and desire, as well as attentional and affective imbalances. While psychology and neuroscience have shed light on the cognitive processes that enable us to thrive and flourish, contemplative science offers a groundbreaking perspective to expand our capacity for genuine well-being, helping us realize that the ultimate intelligence lies in contemplation. It also establishes a connection between the material world and the realm of the subconscious, transcending the traditional science-based understanding of the self.
Understanding the power of Contemplation
I believe that to truly understand what contemplation is about, one must first intentionally withdraw from the hedonistic nature of the ordinary world and the illusions it presents. It is important to recognize that the world is far from ordinary. The mundane world is preoccupied with pleasure and desire, constantly seeking more and more. If we wish to keep our minds free from the traps and illusions, and especially the despair that uncontrolled desire can bring, we need a toolbox, a daily practice that can help us transcend the confines of the mind. Pursuing more only wastes time in the end. It never truly leads to more, and so it becomes a trap for many individuals who have yet to awaken.
Contemplation is both dynamic and abstract, and it requires a right-brained kind of vision and perception. It does not involve calculation or analysis; instead, it fosters connection and synthesis of the world as we know it. Deeply exploring the benefits of contemplation becomes challenging if we remain plugged into a rushed, stressed, and busy world. Through a form of self-hypnosis, we can practice redirecting our minds away from the trivial and towards the meaningful aspects of life.
This daily work is nothing short of enlightening your body, mind and soul by awakening awareness in all of these aspects of the self. All of us have an illusory self. This false self is something that we need to take off like an old coat when the time is right. Once it has served us well we need to give it back. We return it once we have used up all its usefulness that contained our immature natures. Sometimes this false self we are speaking of becomes so much part of us that we actually believe, over time, that it is the true self. It is however only a persona and a mask, hiding what and who we really are until we awaken. So this is what people are talking about when they talk about the transcendent or spiritual self that wakes up through practices like contemplation.
This seeking people are doing is all about finding your true self, your purpose and real meaning in life. The mind of a contemplative is always receiving the present moment through all five senses. It hears, listens, sees, touches and tastes everything it can. It breathes in the fragrance in the air that others do not even notice.
The ART of What is Contemplation
Poetry, music and art have something in common with the contemplative experience. But contemplation is beyond aesthetic intuition, beyond art, beyond poetry. Indeed, it is also beyond philosophy, beyond speculative theology It resumes, transcends and fulfils them all, and yet at the same time it seems, in a certain way, top supersede and to deny them all.
Contemplation is always beyond our own knowledge, beyond our own light, beyond dialogue, beyond our own self. To enter into the realm of contemplation one must in a certain sense die; but this death is in fact the entrance into a higher life. It is a death for the sake of life, which leaves behind all that we can know or treasure as life, as thought, as experience, as joy, as being.
From New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton (Burns and Oates, 1999)
Contemplation is the highest expression of our intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant source.
Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that source. It knows that source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith. For contemplation is a kind of spiritual vision to which both reason and faith aspire, by their very nature, because without it they must always remain incomplete. Yet contemplation is not vision, because it sees ‘without seeing’ and knows ‘without knowing’.
It is more profound depth of faith, knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words or even in clear concepts. It can be suggested by works, by symbols, but in the very moment of trying to indicate what it know the contemplative mind takes back what it has said and denies what is has affirmed. For in contemplation we know by ‘unknowing’. Or, better, we know beyond all knowing or ‘unknowing’.
What is Contemplation and how can incorporate its principles into my life?
The best way to understand the art of contemplation is to research it throughout the ages, all the way to a present moment look at its scientific implications today, and how it is still as relevant to stoics as it is to spiritualists or scientists today. In the book “The Power of Contemplative Intelligence,”.
Socrates, Aristotle, Buddha, and Einstein meet Jesus, Freud, Da Vinci, and Newton. The world has changed. We are convinced that it is for the better. A new freedom awaits those who learn to master nothing less than themselves. No longer do we need to conquer nations and wage war with anyone who is not the same as us. Any wars we wage must be on ourselves. Each person today has the capability to wage peace on themselves, and when we all do this, all wars of dualism end. We cannot expect peace without if we cannot find peace within. When we are at peace, healed from “disorder,” overwhelm, and chaos, we are able to give the fruits we have found away to others. A new consciousness has been emerging for centuries. The power of Contemplative Intelligence allows us to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Prepare for a mystical, spiritual, scientific and philosophical journey into the wilderness of our mentality. Contemplation makes the unknown Universe known, and then starts again at ground zero. From Omega to Alpha and back again. Get ready!