By John McAndrew
“Contemplation is a long, loving look at the real.”
Meditation is a practice, not an idea. It’s about being aware, being conscious. Though there are hundreds of schools of thought and practice about meditation, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Worldwide, all the traditions and methods point towards a state of thoughtless awareness, less an activity than a way of being. In its simplest form, meditation invites us to be still, be quiet, and breathe.
Dr. James Finley, a contemplative teacher and scholar, has written that meditation is “any act, habitually entered into with the whole heart, that awakens contemplative experience.” This description helps us to understand that different forms of meditation or contemplation are already present in our daily lives. As we begin to recognize the many unique ways in which we are able to nurture a quiet mind and a peaceful heart, we are encouraged to try new practices which can lead us deeper into our own heart and soul and spirit.
The practices of meditation, from every time and place and era, are designed to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves: to create a space where our minds can be changed and we can access the transformative power of spirituality. Many writers today talk about the power of meditation to literally re-wire the brain. Neuroscientists call it “neuroplasticity”. Throughout human history, communities have developed habitual practices (rituals) of music, prayer, dancing, drumming, meditation, etc. as a way to promote change and growth. Some form of meditative practice seems to be integral to an authentic spiritual way of living. We simply cannot grow without time for quiet and meditation.
Many people have been confused by popular caricatures of meditation as some kind of esoteric practice from a foreign culture. Over the centuries, Eastern and Western spiritualities have developed their own forms of meditation and this can also create vocabulary problems: What’s the difference between meditation and prayer? What is contemplation? What is reflection? What is mindfulness?
Sensible Spirituality Associates promotes the simple practice of paying attention to what is in front of us. In a multi-tasking world, it’s often painfully difficult to focus on ‘Doing The One Thing’. All of our services include this contemplative dimension. We have worked with both novices and trained meditators to bring a contemplative practice into new alignment with values and principles.
We offer Meditation Training and Practice in both Eastern and Western variants and specialize in helping people reclaim the contemplative dimensions of their own faith traditions. Based on our own experience, we actively promote and encourage the development of daily meditation as a singular feature of a Sensible Spirituality.