If I say the word ‘meditation,’ what comes to you?
What do you picture when you think of this word?
If you are like me, you picture someone with eyes closed, maybe a little smile on their face.
Or maybe you think about how the word ‘meditation’ relates to you personally.
At this moment, I picture my daughter staring at a candle. This is pure imagination. She is 6 years old, and trust me, she doesn’t sit around and stare at candle flames. At least not yet! 🙂
When I think about meditation, as it relates to gong baths, I think about effortlessness.
At a gong bath you meditate without even trying. You just lay down and it works. Simple as that.
Then there is another kind of meditation.
A special kind of meditation.
A meditation that probably didn’t come to mind immediately, because it involves the thing we often wish to eliminate, especially if we are meditating – 0ur thinking.
But this meditation involves thinking. It brings thinking into the meditation. That is what makes this flavor of meditation so wonderful.
It is called contemplative meditation.
Contemplative meditation has been used for thousands of years. It has been practiced by monks in monasteries, by leading scientists in laboratories, by creative humans in every life pursuit. It is often practiced instinctively.
The word ‘contemplative ‘comes from the verb ‘to contemplate.’
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of thoughts.
There are thoughts that occur to us automatically, and thoughts we choose to think.
Which do you suppose is the more common form of thinking among the two? Certainly habitual thought, yes? When we think habitually, and we almost ALWAYS think habitually, these thoughts are reactions to our circumstances of the moment. Mostly we don’t even notice these thoughts. They are like the air we breath. Always there, but never seen.
Automatic thought can be pleasant or unpleasant, but one thing for sure is that these thoughts just show up; we don’t choose them…or do we?
Automatic thinking is not all bad. Our habitual thought processes take care of us in all kinds of ways. These thoughts keep us alive without us having to constantly make choices. Like driving a car. When you start to drive, there are all kinds of decisions you have to learn how to make, but once you have been driving for a while, the driving happens practically by itself. This is an example of intentional thought giving way to automatic thought.
This is great, as far as it goes.
But if the only kind of thought we think is automatic, over time, we lose one of the great gifts of what it is to be human.
Without thinking new kinds of thoughts, we never improve. If the only kind of thought we think is automatically given to us, our lives get smaller and smaller in an ever-tightening coyle of misery. Why? Because automatic thinking is always based on the past and life is always changing.
Automatic thinking will never give us the openness to see things in a new way. These habitual thoughts act as a filter. There is no improvisation to automatic thinking. It is robottic in nature. Automatic thinking may keep us alive, but it won’t give us the joy of feeling alive. For that, we need a different kind of thinking. We need intentional thinking.
If we want to live a good life, it is important to remember to think intentionally.
This may sound obvious, but I encourage you to really dig into it. It is a big deal. When you choose to think a thought, you are choosing to take matters into your own hands. It is pretty easy to think intentionally, but it must be done, and it must be done regularly, if you care about living a better kind of life, and giving a better kind of life to those around you.
If you care about living a fulfilling existence, learning how to think intentionally is a must. It is one of your best tools for self-improvement, healing, awakening, creative problem solving in every area of life – personal and professional. It will expand your awareness to possibilities you didn’t even know where there for you.
How is intentional thinking so powerful?
When you choose what to consciously think about, in that moment, you are choosing where to direct your focus. When you choose a thought you are telling yourself that this thought is important. You are giving your focus the command of what you want to notice. You are choosing where and how to place your attention. And where attention goes, energy flows and life grows.
When you choose to think a thought, you start to notice life as it relates to the thought you have chosen. You begin to notice new things, you may notice new possibilities. You may see new choices for situations that seem hopelessly stuck. You gain new measures of clarity. These are just a few examples off the top of my mind of what happens when you let yourself think intentionally.
In short, thinking intentionally is one of the most powerful actions you can take to creates new results in the areas that matter most to you.
Best of all, it is almost always available to you and it is simple to learn.
This is where contemplative meditation comes in.
Contemplative meditation is the practice of choosing a thought, SLOWLY repeating this thought and letting yourself think about this thought for a few moments. That’s all contemplative meditation is. It’s that simple. Just consciously repeating a thought and seeing what comes up from that thought. Nothing more, nothing less.
The magic of contemplative meditation is that by repeating this thought slowly, from saying it out loud, to silently to ourselves, the thought sink into your subconscious, where it will continue to work, but without you even trying. It becomes an automatic thought! In this way, you work out creative, spiritual, personal, transpersonal problems without even trying! And it is especially powerful if you do it at a gong bath!
Contemplative Meditation in Five Steps
Step One: Choose a thought you wish to meditate on.
You thought should be short and simple. It can be a statement or a question.
It can be a statement you want to understand better like ‘I am not this body.’ It can be question like ‘What is love?’ It can be a universal/philosophical thought, or it can be a personal thought. It can be a huge thought, like ‘Who am I?’ or it can be a mundane thought like ‘How should I get a new job?’
It can be a specific thought about your life. It can be a problem you wish to resolve, or something you are simply curious about.
The main thing is that this thought is attractive to you.
Below I offer you 14 thoughts that are attractive to me. You can use any of them, or make your own list. The point is simply to do it, and start working your intentional thinking muscle.
Step Two: Get into position for meditation.
This could just be sitting in your favorite chair or sofa, or laying in your bed, or on a walk.
As it relates to the gong bath, simply lay down the minutes before the bath and do your meditation then. It only takes a few minutes to be effective, so if you come 15 minutes before the gong bath starts, it is more than enough.
Step Three: Slowly, out loud, whisper the thought to yourself.
Listen to the words of the thought. Repeat it. Continue to listen and repeat slowly.
Hear your voice saying the words. Don’t force any kind of thinking. Just watch what comes up, if anything, listening to how the thought affects you. It will affect you exactly as it should. If nothing comes up, let that also be ok.
Then take it a big quieter. You may start in a whisper, then make it barely audible to you.
Repeat the thought, getting quieter and quieter until you are silent.
Step Four: Say the thought to yourself silently as many times as it feels right to.
The idea of talking to yourself silently may seem strange, but it is actually easy.
Try it now.
Say silently to yourself ‘I can speak to myself intentionally.’ It is amazing that we have this skill, but have never been taught to use it, though it is so powerful.
Repeat this thought in silence going slower and slower, about 5 – 10 times. Do it as many times as feels right.
Step Five: Let it go.
Your work is finished. You have planted the seed in your subconscious. Like planting a seed, you have begun this thought process and there is nothing left to do. It will now begin to work by itself, as an automatic thought process.
You can use this thought again, or use it only once. In my opinion, the most important thing is to contemplate a thought that matters to you the moment you are contemplating it. Otherwise, it becomes a boring exercise, and we don’t want that, right 🙂
How to do contemplative meditation at a gong bath
Meditating contemplatively before a gong bath is uniquely powerful. The thought seed you plant in your meditation will go deep into your subconscious in a gong bath and this intentional valuable thought will be triggered by any of the millions of frequencies of the sounds you hear in the session.
To do a contemplative meditation at a gong bath, simply follow the steps above before (or as) the session starts.
You do your meditation and then you let it go…unless it wants to stay around.
In that case, you think about it to your heart’s content. Let it go by itself. It is good and it belongs. Like I always say, you cannot do a gong bath wrong. So it is ok if you are contemplating a thought you put in your mind intentionally. It is better than ok. It is a blessing. Enjoy!
I wish you much success with this. If you try this, please let me know how it goes! also, if you have ideas for good thoughts to meditate on, please share those with me.
14 Contemplative Meditation Ideas
Experience is make believe
It is safe to experience anything.
Who is noticing this?
What is awareness of awareness?
Not the body, not the mind
No time, no space
This is what needs to be Loved
As it is
Total vulnerability is invulnerability
Feel the feeling, drop the meaning
No time, no space
Meditate not to discover who I am. Meditate to express who I am.