Given that I could not answer easily the question, “How do you contemplate?” here is a contemplation how I contemplate. I find there are deliberate and non-deliberate contemplations.
The deliberate contemplations are:
1. Reading the Bible – the most direct contemplations come from reading the words, the verses, and whole books of God’s Word. I read expecting to hear from God when reading, and most of the time I do, and especially when I engage in Lectio Divina, which is praying the Word slowly and repeatedly, emphasising words and phrases, imagining ourselves as the reader who is also divine speaker.
2. Post-difficulty – the soul of lament, when all is despair, is a surprising source of revelation, and it is therefore a key contemplation that searches God. This is one of the reasons why Christians have the advantage in hardship; they use it as impetus for growth.
3. Napping – an incredible contemplation occurs when we shut off our conscious mind and allow the unconscious mind its voice. Unlike in long sleep, when R.E.M. induces dreams, whereby the dreams speak for the subconscious, naps facilitate the unconscious mind’s voice, bringing it to the surface upon waking. The naps where this is possible, in my personal experience, are sub-15-minute naps.
4. When praying – bent toward God in my consciousness, free of distractions, I’m His and He is mine. Such a contemplation is often revelatory. There is a discipline involved of praying simply as truthfully as we can. When we pray with others we inevitably have part of ourselves as part of the show. We have to limit this, trusting others and ourselves to the words that come which God wants us to say.
5. Anti-thought – whenever I seek silence I’m trying to empty my mind. This is a habit, so longer intervals occur between the distractions, which is the noise of life. Stopping thought is the way to achieve mental and spiritual silence so emotional peace can be obtained.
6. Fasting – although it may not seem to be a form of contemplation, fasting brings in many changes within my spirit, often in the form of challenges. Contemplations that are challenges are God’s revelatory truth – even some we don’t want to face, but beneficial all the same.
Non-deliberate contemplations come because of openness of mind, where and revelation results – i.e. hearing from or seeing God through non-deliberate contemplation – in other words, in the normal walk of life. Here are some that I find relevant in my life:
7. Movement – I’m sensitive to movement, and anytime I’m moving, whether I’m on transport or walking or cycling, etc., I inevitably hear from/see God.
8. In nature – like many people, when I’m out in nature I cannot help but be touched by God through what my senses experience.
9. Marriage and family – so much raw material for contemplation comes through our relationships. We have such intimacy in a great many of our relationships, and God speaks through them all. I’ve always been the kind of person who ruminates on my interactions with others.
10. Learning, any learning – stimulus is contemplation of a most natural means. The greatest reason to take a university course is that the mind grows through constant contemplation.
11. Mentoring – whether I’m the mentor or I’m being mentored, God speaks in the transactions. True mentoring, a spiritual process, is one where we all learn, and that’s because the Holy Spirit speaks to anyone who will listen.
12. Observations – places where there is a hive of activity are ripe for revelation as I simply sit and am free to observe.