I have posted on contemplative practices before and last year I posted about a brief guided practice using a bell sound meditation. But even at five minutes, it’s more time than many people are willing to give to quiet contemplation.
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things.”
Looking at the website for the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, I found other guided meditations, and I also found the Tree of Contemplative Practices which is a nice visual of seven branches of practices.
You can see that it ranges quiet practices for stillness (sitting meditation; centering prayer) to movement (walking meditation; pilgrimage). These practices can be done alone, but most of them actually involve others (work & volunteering; storytelling), and some produce tangible results – whether that be music, art, a house, a sacred space, journal or dialog.
Do you deliberately set aside any time each day for conscious contemplation? You can’t count those ten minutes that you sip coffee while waiting for the train staring mindlessly at the tracks. Why not? Well, the mindless nature of it, for one thing.
There are activities not included on this Tree that I do. For example, gardening is one of my favorite ways to relax. It can be considered a contemplative practice when done with the intent of cultivating awareness, or developing a stronger connection with God or one’s inner wisdom. That’s different from just gardening. So, it is more than just sitting quietly, or walking in the woods, watching a fire, gazing at the ocean or resting on the couch.