Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Method of Contemplation

There are of course many ways to practice meditative contemplative prayer. Many people want to jump straight into silence and mindfulness, but for most people this becomes dry and feels like hard work after a while (if it doesn't for you, great! But I want to talk to those who do struggle). So often there is a need for some scaffolding, some structure of words to hold the deeper silence. I use prayer books by John Philip Newell, who for me offers a poetic language that opens up the heart. Using reading and chanting as punctuation, I use a fourfold method of prayer: intention, compassion, meditation, and communion. 

This is a form of prayer that last for about an hour:

Begin with speaking a written prayer and/or chanting.

Intention: Then five or ten minutes of silence in which you express a desire, an intention, to enter into deeper prayer. You try to open yourself to the divine, but you are also full of forgiveness and love for yourself as your mind wanders. You let is wander if it needs to. Allow yourself to think the thoughts if you really feel you need to process something.

Written prayer/chanting.

Compassion: Then five or ten minutes of prayer for the life of the world. Hold all those you know in need this day, all the suffering of the world, hold it in the presence of God. Again your mind might wander as you think of your friends, your family, and the state of the world, but try to bring the attention back to God.

Written prayer/chanting.

Meditation: Then ten minutes of mindfulness meditation. You sit with your mind on your breathing, your body, listening to the Universe/God all around you. Many people practice breath meditation, but I find listening works best for me. I listen to the sounds of the room: traffic, the ticking of a clock, a dog barking. Don't analyse these sounds, don't think about them, just purely listen with as much attention as possible. You can begin to realise in this that you are within a whole body, the body of the universe, the earth, and you are part of it. You in a womb listening to the heartbeat of your mother's body. You are intimately connected and held in the body of God/Earth.

Written prayer/chanting.

Communion: Finally speak intimately with God, express your desire to be close and connected, to be filled with love, or simply rest in the silence of God's peace. Five or ten minutes. 

Brief song or spoken blessing to end.  


Blogger jkh said...

Is it time to demonstrate what you mean with a regular, Zoomed daily session, which others could either join or imitate on their own?
I have often thought that UK Unitarianism needs a less wordy, more devotional input, and possibly a group of dedicated, cyber, Unitarian 'monks' and 'nuns' concerned with worship and intercession.

11:57 am  

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