Questions about contemplative prayer

 

Questions about contemplative prayer

Where can I meditate?

Choose a place where you are undisturbed as possible. This can be a corner in a room, or a free space in your home. Design this place maybe with a picture, a candle, a flower, so that you like to go to this place. Even if you are traveling, you can meditate, e.g. on the way to work, in a church, in a hotel room, in a recreation room, at your place of work, etc.

What is the right time for meditation and how much time do I need?

Search in your daily routine for a fixed and protected time for meditation. Early morning is a recommended time. Depending on the circumstances or your own rhythm other fixed times may be necessary (e.g. for different shifts, for weekdays and weekends, for days at home or on the road). Sometimes it helps to write the meditation times for the next week in the calendar. Regularity helps to make meditation a habitual practice that can form our lives gradually.

Meditate every day for at least 30 minutes in a contiguous time. To stop the time you can set an alarm. So you do not have to worry about the time during meditation.

How can I meditate undisturbed?

Talk with your roommates that this is a time in which you do not want to be disturbed. Others may look after the phone and the doorbell at this time.

If no other roommates are there to take care of the phone, etc., try to avoid disturbances by for example turning on the answering machine, turning off the doorbell, etc... You may perceive noise or other disturbances from the outside. Do not worry about it further.

How do I sit during meditation?

For contemplative prayer no special sitting posture is needed such as the lotus position or the like. It is important that for half an hour you can sit upright and relaxed. This may be on a meditation cushion, a meditation bench or a chair. Make sure you have proper contact with the floor and the seat. The spine should be able to straighten itself freely. Relax your shoulders and face and close your eyes.

How can I settle down for prayer in the hustle and bustle of everyday life?

When you step out of the everyday hustle and bustle for your prayer time, you might need support for the transition. You can take a walk, do some physical exercises or simply get some rest before you sit down to pray.

How do I design the prayer time?

Bring to your mind that you have all the time for God and for yourself. You do not have to achieve anything or do anything. It is an unintentional gift of time.

You can begin with a text from the Bible. The Gospel of the day, for example, you can find on the Internet at www.dailygospel.org. You do not think about the Bible passage, but you feel into it, and perceive how you respond to the text.

Then meditate by first perceiving your breath, then drawing attention to the space between your palms and speaking internally "Jesus" with each exhalation and "Christ" with each inhalation. Listen to the sound of the name.

Meditate in the fundamental attitudes of contemplation:

  • Be aware wide awake
  • Remain with lively interest
  • Remain in this awareness without interruption (If you have become absent-minded, return
  • to perception straightforwardly and firmly by directing your attention back to feeling the hands and to the sound of the name)

End the prayer time with a short spoken prayer.

At the end of the prayer time you can pause for a moment and let the meditation linger. You can write down a few key words in a spiritual diary about what has been shown inside you at this time.

A model for a possible design and structure of the prayer time you can find here. It can be printed as a template.

What do I have to observe for contemplative prayer?

There are some fundamental attitudes for contemplative prayer that you can recall again and again:

Contemplative prayer is perception. Trusting that God is at work, you perceive just what shows up in the silence and stick to it attentively. Everything that happens in prayer is allowed to be there. Perception and trust are the two essential attitudes for contemplative prayer. Do not put yourself under strain however remain in loyalty and determination in the atmosphere of contemplative prayer. Reflection, analysis, planning, evaluation do not belong in this time.

Prayer is relationship. Turn to the relationship with Jesus Christ. Learn to stay in this relationship with all that is now in you. When you are distracted turn your attention back to your hands and the name of Jesus.

The following principles can be remembered at the beginning of the prayer time:

  • I do not need to achieve anything.
  • I do not need to find peace.
  • Nothing special has to happen now
  • I let happen now.
  • I perceive now and trust.

"It is what it is, says love"

Can I go the way also in community with others?

Praying in a meditation group can strengthen the individual path, gives direction and opens up a space for mutual exchange in community. For meditation groups which practice the way of prayer see here. They are open groups. You can also invite others to meditate together.

How can I get to know contemplative prayer?

In many places introduction courses are offered for contemplative prayer. These are in the form of a day or a weekend or several meetings once a week. Such offers can be found here. Additional options are retreats or our online course.

An introduction is also the book "Contemplative Retreat" by Franz Jalics.

The "conversations" from this book can also be a companion for everyday life. Examples of such discussions can be found here.