How to Use Contemplation During Meditation

According to spiritual coach and mentor Timothy Paul, contemplation with regards to meditation is, “The inner awareness of Source at all times. It is a loving, peaceful, ever present relationship with Source. It is a gentle whisper, a hug, a loving kiss from within that allows you to truly experience what life is. It increases your awareness of the present moment and at times, if you allow, fills you with joy and happiness and gratitude.” Traditional meditation's aim is to be without thought, soaking up the serenity of the stillness. On the other hand, contemplative meditation, or analytical meditation as it is also known, has a different approach.

Branches During a contemplative meditation, you will consciously focus on a particular thought. In Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's book Turning the Mind into an Ally, these suggested steps are given for contemplative meditation:

  • Calm the mind by resting on the breathing.
  • When you feel ready, bring up a certain thought or intention in the form of words.
  • Use these words as the object of meditation, continually returning to them as distractions arise.
  • In order to help rouse the heartfelt experience of their meaning, think about the words. Bring ideas and images to mind to inspire the meaning.
  • As the meaning of the words begins to penetrate, let the words drop away, and rest in that.
  • Become familiar with that meaning as it penetrates.
  • Conclude your session and arise from your meditation with the meaning in your heart. 'Meaning' is direct experience, free of words.
  • Now enter the world aspiring to conduct yourself with the view of your contemplation. For example if you have been contemplating the preciousness of human birth, your view will be one of appreciation.

Suggested thoughts or intentions to use for contemplative meditation may be things you struggle with but would like to be more accepting of. If you are having relationship difficulty, you may envision stepping inside your partner's body and walking around in their life for awhile, seeing you and the relationship through their eyes. You may also find it helpful to write down your thought for the meditation to help you get 100% clear before you begin. Try to condense the thought into one clear, concise, brief sentence if possible. As usual, give great attention to your breathing, upright posture, and quiet mind during a session of contemplative meditation.

~ Jillian Avey,



image courtesy of Axel Kramer