Creating Your Contemplative Practice and How Can it Change Your Life
We are being inundated today with information and a life at lightning-speed unlike any time in history. This is a big deal because our bodies and minds were not built for this complexity so, as a species, we humans are becoming more hyperactive and hypersensitive.
We are training ourselves to “loathe the moment” and fill it with doing, numbing, and distracting actions. If you don’t learn to balance the hyperactivity with contemplative practices, you are at risk of being pulled into every drama happening around you.
We call the ability to pause, bring yourself present to the moment, breath, and calm yourself, a contemplative practice. In its simplest form, a contemplative practice is about paying attention, to the present moment, on purpose, and with a non-judgmental focus.
A contemplative practice can be as easy as the simple act of pausing and taking a few slow breaths. When you pause and breath slowly, a message is sent to your body that it does not need to be on high alert, and it is safe to relax, which soothes the nervous system.
Another contemplative practice includes a few minutes of slow, relaxed walking. Some people use reflective writing as their practice, centering prayer, or formal meditation. For others, a gratitude practice each evening before going to bed works for them.
When shifting from the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer, a contemplative practice that helps you to be more mindful in the moment can gather your reactive thoughts and focus them into a more coherent and positive energy. But when you go numb to what’s happening in the moment, it is easy to go on autopilot and dig yourself deeper into the DDT.
A contemplative practice helps you to “awaken your inner observer” and watch your emotions flow through you, rather than getting hijacked in the moment. The part of your brain that lights up when your inner observer is activated is the opposite area of your brain that is activated when you are in the DDT. Two parts of the brain do not activate at the same time. That is how contemplative practices help you get out of the DDT and reduce your tension and stress in the moment.
Becoming more mindful in the moment does not change your outer circumstances—it changes the way you perceive your circumstances.
“Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form—without filters, judgments, or commentaries. The ego doesn’t trust this way of seeing,” writes Fr. Richard Rohr. He continues, “But we first have to catch ourselves in the act and recognize how habitual our egoic, dualistic thinking is.”
Shifting from Victim to Creator—from drama to empowerment—begins with focusing more on what you want than what you don’t want. There is often an uncomfortable tension in the gap between what you want and what you have. Contemplative practices build your capacity to be with that uncomfortable feeling by watching your body sensations—and your self-talk about those emotions—and simply be present, rather than going reactive.
As you hold that tension, observe your subtle body sensations and thoughts with a non-judgmental space, and you will gradually relax. As you practice these mindfulness moments, you will be amazed at how your Creator essence guides you to your better self.
Rather than reacting, distracting, or numbing yourself from the moment, you can enjoy a moment of calm and quiet—and that’s how a contemplative practice can change your life!