Everyday Contemplation: Maintaining a Hush for Mental Health
“Contemplation:” The word’s Latin root means “a space to view auguries.” (Those are implements used for divining the future.) I say that you don’t forecast the future by quiet sitting: you change it, and for the better! You reach into your heart, bring up from it your essence, and refine that into a calmer self that is more responsive to your own values.
What I call contemplation, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow experiences.” At such “moments…, what we feel, what we wish, and what we think are in harmony.” (Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (New York: Basic Books, 1997 paperback, page 29.)
Mindfulness meditation or prayer are not the only forms. You can experience this state by getting fully absorbed in any active hobby, from needlework to gardening and many more.
- Reading poetry aloud.
- Listening to the surf.
- Looking at the heavens.
- Knowing who you are at the moment while waiting in line, say for boarding a plane—or even waiting for the microwave to beep its cycle completion.
- Watching the world pass by: Noticing the variety of humankind—sizes and shapes, complexions, styles of walking, groupings….
- Critters—those on a lead and those w/o leashes.
- Plants (and not just to eat their foodstuffs.)
- The world of minerals—all weathers, all terrains.
- Concentrating on what you are doing. Your mind undivided.
The sense of awe, is also often associated with this kind of engagement with the world.
Some other examples follow.
See, really see—that tree doesn’t have a gnarled trunk. It has ovoid depressions of various sizes and its bark where not thus impacted has grooves. The bark’s color can vary at different parts of the tree. The leaves are in distinct sizes, stages of growth. They are numerous colors depending on their development, and in many climates on their response to the chilly season’s beginning.
A good way of handling anxiety or depression that sends you to your bed in disgust is to snuggle with your companion—animal or human. You’ll be distracted, and if you follow up with a nap, you can dream your way into a better state of mind.
If you are home-bound, rehearse memories of beauty. What you once saw or experienced is yours forever, especially if you have a photograph of it or of something similar to display. You are alive and life entails change. You actually may discover that you will be able to see or experience a better facsimile than that which you had displayed in the future—or even live out the real event.