There are many methods for relaxation—deep breathing, autogenic training, and calming exercises such as stretching to name a few. And there is a—rather obvious—trend in relaxation techniques: nearly all of them center in some way on the act of contemplation.
It seems that the best way to relax, is to focus on calming both the mind and the body. You can’t have a calm mind and a restless body, or vice versa.
But what is contemplation, really? When I think of it, I see a monk in a robe sitting on the floor with his forefingers and thumbs pressed together, “hom”-ing. I know this is not always an accurate depiction of all types of contemplation, and so I decided to do one of my favorite things—research!—and find out for myself what exactly contemplation is.
But I found that, apparently, there is no finite definition of contemplation for me to relay to you. It seems that the meaning of contemplation differs based on what part of the world you find yourself in, or how you are practicing your contemplation techniques.
The more I scrolled through the website about the different kinds of contemplation that are out there in the world, I realized that contemplation is different for everyone and could be applied to most aspects of life. There is the traditional idea of contemplation—sitting in an empty room by yourself, cross-legged, with your eyes closed and your mind empty of all things except healing and the feeling one one-ness. But there is also a whole world of other types of contemplation.
Whenever I sit on the couch and crochet, my mind relaxes as my body moves repetitively. Sometimes, hours can go by and it will only feel like minutes to me because my mind has kind of checked out while my fingers move with the yarn. This could be considered contemplation. Even reading, when my mind and body are so relaxed that I am able to enter another world, and feel what the characters feel—this, too, could be considered contemplation. And, as I’ve realized, so can just about everything else!
I have begun to approach all the things I do in my life in a sort of contemplative state. During my downtime at work, I sit and let my mind relax, to sort of wind down from the minor stressful moments. While I am driving, I remain mindful of what I am doing and pay attention to the things going on around me, but I don’t blast my music so loud, or call people incessantly until someone picks up so I can talk to someone during my trip. Instead, I will play the music lightly, and just let my mind wander and think about things that I otherwise wouldn’t even consider. I’ve recently written many a blog in my head on these trips.
Contemplation is not only for the monks in remote places in the world. It is a great thing for mental health, physical health and just overall feeling good. It makes it easier to practice mindfulness, because you are always within your mind, and are aware of your emotions and reactions to the world around you.
And it is amazing the things your mind will come up with when you give it the chance.