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How to practice Christian Contemplation

Christian Contemplation and Meditation work by quieting down our one-dimensional conscious mind and bringing our powerful multi-dimensional deep mind, or subconscious mind, to the surface. Meditation opens access to the subconscious - the vast reserve of potential hidden from our conscious awareness. It puts to rest that side of us that might be anxious, unimaginative, or unaware - and awakens that person deep down who is present, calm, and creative - our highest and best self.

Christian Contemplation is a form of meditation to become our highest and best self, and it also seeks a direct experience of the divine.


Purpose of the Breath


In meditation, the breath is a powerful centering tool. Not only does it help to put a bit of distance between our thoughts, and it redirects us back to our meditation when our conscious mind wanders off. As such, the breath helps us operate from our deep mind instead of our conscious mind. So we try to stay with the breath.


Mind-Awake, Body-Asleep


  • We start to feel our body falling asleep or a feeling of lightness while our mind stays conscious and alert, and we begin to observe a slowdown in our breath rate.

  • We begin to notice that our thoughts are occurring less frequently, and when thoughts do occur, they have a less physiological impact. For example, the heart rate stays the same no matter what enters our minds.

  • We begin to observe our conscious state moving more into mindfulness—the state of active, open attention on the present. Observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance without judging them is living in the moment.

Introduction to Christian Contemplation

If you are currently a mature Christian, skip this section and move on to Step One - Breath Awareness and Relaxation. However, you might want to review this introduction even if you've been a Christian for a long time. It is doctrinal but necessary to be a Christian and for success in Christian Contemplation.


Christian Contemplation is a form of prayer or meditation in which a person seeks a direct divine experience. Yet, to experience the divine, one must feel genuine love for the divine. You can't sit in meditation on Jesus and feel his love if you don't love him. And if you don't love him, you probably doubt he loves you. So you start by establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ. 


First, you must believe that Jesus is whom he said he was and died for your sins and genuinely repent. You must have faith and believe this with all your heart and mind.


Second, you need to be baptized, ideally by immersion. Then you need to proclaim Jesus to another publicly.


  • "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved." Mark 16 NIV

  • "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 NIV


The third is about getting your heart right. Accept that you have been forgiven. Don't think that you are unworthy. That could negate God's saving Grace. Is Jesus's sacrifice greater than your sins? Yes, it is!


God has justified you, meaning "God looks at you as if your sins never happened." If you genuinely integrate God's saving Grace into your whole being, you will grow in your Love for Jesus. There will be a day when you have matured as a Christian when you know Jesus loves you unconditionally. When that day comes, Christian Contemplation comes alive.


Christian Contemplation Step One – Breath Awareness and Relaxation


  • I suggest contemplating for approximately ten minutes daily if you are a beginner and increasing the time by ten minutes each week until you reach 40 minutes which many feel is ideal.  

  • Sit in any comfortable position that allows your back to be as upright as possible. Place your hands on your thighs or together on your lap. Now do a body scan from your head to your feet and back up again. Repeat the body scan several times until you are very relaxed.

  • Start by breathing into the count of 4, hold to the count of 4, and exhale to the count of 4. Repeat and focus on the air going in and out of your nostrils.  

  • Now begin your Contemplation session and sit in the silence. Try not to concern yourself with unwanted thoughts. Gently detach from unwanted thoughts without judgment and return to feeling your breath and the silence. You aim to become fully relaxed and centered or mindful at this stage.

  • When you contemplate, you don't have to silence all your thoughts, which would be problematic. Whether beginner or advanced in Contemplation, gently detach from unwanted thoughts and return to your breath. Remember not to resist unwanted thoughts or retain them. Do not react to unwanted thoughts. Return gently to your breath or intention. Resist no unwanted thought. Retain no unwanted thoughts. React to no unwanted thought. Return ever so gently to your sacred word.

  • The "sacred word," as used by Father Thomas Keating, is a word that you chose to "center" yourself. After a time, as you use your sacred word, you will become conditioned and return to your desired state.


Christian Contemplation Step Two – First stage of Contemplation


  • Now begin to focus on your heart center and breathe into it.

  • Try to feel your heart expanding and radiating light and love.

  • Keep breathing into your heart and stay focused on your heart for at least 10 minutes.

  • This is a significant step that many meditation teachers, such as Dr. Joe Dispenza, emphasize. If you practice Yoga, you know how the importance of the Heart Chakra.

Christian Contemplation Step Three – Focus on your Intention


  • Now focus on your intention to open yourself to God.

  • Contemplate God in any way that is comfortable for you. Just remember to engage your feelings.

  • Think about your love for Jesus with your whole being, or you might think about a Scripture Verse.

  • You can also visualize Jesus with whatever image comes to mind.

  • Hold your visualization for as long as you want, then focus on your visualization and feelings.

  • Stay at this stage of meditation for as long as it is comfortable. 

Christian Contemplation Step Four – Doing Nothing

  • Now you release all visualizations and feelings and return to the silence with the presence of God. 

  • You let go and exist in this moment. 

  • Be still. Know that God is with you.


Understand that you don't need to strive too hard to feel God's presence, and if you have been contemplating for some time, you don't always need to use visualizations or other techniques, but I find it helpful to begin with them. In time, all you need to do is believe that God is with you. That's all. Believe despite what the mind is thinking or what you are feeling.



Know that God created you to feel his love. You were made to know his voice. You are destined to see his face. You don't need to force this form of Contemplation. You rest in the moment with God. God is the center of everything. He is the Truth that holds all existence together. And he is already with you. He is filling you with love at the center of your being. You don't need to do anything. Just be present and breathe.


God seeks the one whose greatest desire is to know him. Whose heart longs for his holy wonder, whose soul thirsts for the Living Waters, who desires purity in their innermost parts. That's You! God fills you with love as you surrender all and live in the moment. He infuses you with faith, hope, and love. You know the eternal glories begin now on Earth.


Christian Contemplation is very easy as compared to "Eastern Meditation Practices." We start by focusing on our breath; then, we transition to focusing on our heart center. We now contemplate God in any way we choose. When we experience unwanted thoughts, we gently think of our "Sacred Word" for a few moments and then refocus on Contemplating God.  


This process is not complicated and is very rewarding. Additionally, you don't need to make this practice overly formal. You can do this while walking in nature or lying in bed. You can contemplate wherever and whenever you desire – any time, day, or night. And the only bad Meditation or Contemplation is one that you don't do.

Thomas Merton's Life and Practices

Thomas Keating on Contemplation

The Contemplative Process

Christian Contemplation Introduction

Ongoing Steps to Learning Contemplation

Discernment for Contemplation

Purification for the Contemplative

The Purgative Way

Saint John Paul II on The Rosary

Differences between Meditation and Contemplation

Christian Contemplation Resources

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