Prioritizing Quiet Contemplation

Edited by: Vlada Taits

 

The internet makes a lot of wonderful things possible. In a time of a global pandemic, students are able to continue their education safely and remotely through virtual learning (although it’s far from ideal) and the internet serves as a resource for people to learn and grow. Social media specifically is also a great tool for creativity and self-development. However, we all know consuming it can be (both timewise and energetically). As someone who is taking all online classes, works in a social media job, and also really enjoys having an online space for writing and photography, I end being tied to my phone or computer for the whole day. This is obviously not a very good thing and it’s becoming a reality for a lot of people, whether they want it to be the case or not. It can be really overwhelming to be bombarded with information and photographs on screen 24/7, which is why quiet time away from the screen is super important. I wanted to list the different ways that I integrate contemplative moments into my day and discuss how much they’ve helped me: 

  1. 1. Meditation

    I'm listing this first because it's a word and a practice that is highly misunderstood. A lot of people are intimidated by the concept of "meditation" because they might not know how to do it, think that they don't have time, or aren't disciplined enough. Meditation can come in many different forms and it can last anywhere from five minutes to an hour.  In its most basic form, meditation is anything that lets you slow down or completely silence your thoughts. The purpose of it is to calm down and bring a bit of presence into your mind. I personally switch up the kind of meditation I do, depending on how I feel. I will sometimes just close my eyes and observe my breathing, or I will listen to a guided meditation/chant online. Sometimes even observing candlelight or a pool of water can be meditative. Experiment with different things and find what works for you.

  2. 2. Prayer and Gratitude

    This is only something that might apply to you if you are religious. But, I wanted to talk about it since praying is a really important aspect of my day. I like to begin and end my day with prayers, and sometimes I take moments in the middle of the day if the day calls for it. Due to COVID, a lot of places of worship are either closed or open for limited amounts of time. I know that this has made it difficult for people to feel connected to their religious community or even their faith itself. Creating a small space/altar on a shelf or table (if this is applicable to your religious background) where you can focus your attention when you pray can really help. 

    I added on the word gratitude alongside prayer, because even if you are not religious or don't pray much, merely reciting the things in your life that you are grateful for every night/morning can be a huge boost for your mental health. 

  3. 3. Journaling

    The third and last point that I wanted to discuss is journaling. Keeping a journal looks different for everyone and it can be hard to maintain one everyday (I myself get lazy with journaling). However, I notice that I feel distinctly lighter any time that I write my thoughts down. I'd highly reccomend writing with pen and paper to give your eyes the break they need from the screen. Also, knowing that your work is not being "saved" anywhere might make it easier for you to be more open and vulnerable with your writing. It can be a good way to get some clarity, vent frustrations, write down your goals, or just empty your head a bit. An interesting practice that I learned about recently is called "morning pages" where you just get into a stream-of-consiousness mode and write whatever pops into your head. I think it would be worthwhile to do it at night also, since I personally sleep easier when I feel like I've gotten a lot of my to-do lists and other random thoughts jotted down somewhere. 

Meditation, prayer, and journaling are the three most important activities in my day that take me away from the screen and also let me check in with myself. All three of these practices can look vastly different from person to person. It's important to note that many of them can also be interwoven together. For example, meditation can be a form of prayer or devotional practice (or something you do before/after one another). A lot of people incorporate journaling into their prayer practice or write down their experiences after meditating. Basically, anything you can do to calm down, contemplate a bit, and feel more grounded is worthwhile to do and it's important now more than ever to prioritize those activities.