How does one adopt a contemplative lifestyle? There are many ways to live a consecrated life. In this posting, I will discuss the initial steps I took to get started.
First, consider how dedicated to prayer you wish to be. You could start with a minimum of twice a day (morning/evening). Then, as you develop that routine, add a mid-day prayer. The prayers need not be long, drawn out activities. What is important is to establish a prayer line to God. I wish to adopt 7 times a day as do Cistercian contemplatives which works out to about every two hours. And before you say, that cannot be done with work and schooling, I did exactly this while working full-time plus attending grad school full time. I MADE time waking early, during breaks, during walks or even during swimming. Prayer can be anywhere as long as the mind can be directed to God. Right now, I am managing 4 times a day (morning, mid-morning, noon, and evening) but I hope to increase that.
Second, incorporate reading the scriptures into your daily routine. This is not about marathon reading. In fact, lectio divino (mindful listening and pondering) can be done in a verse or two upon which you will ponder during the day. Some call this ‘meditation’ but another way to consider it is ‘ruminating’ on the word of God. It is amazing how much more meaning and memorization can occur with this technique. Moreover, scripture study may involve listening as in mp3 or online. Sometimes, hearing the Word brings a different perspective that reading does not.
Thirdly, return to song and psalm. Reciting a psalm or singing a hymn (hopefully related to the scripture verse of the day) just adds that much more to the daily routine. The psalms were meant to be sung, or at least chanted. There is every kind of emotion in the psalms: from sublime love and worship to anger and desire for revenge. All that reflects the human experience. Now, I am not a singer by any stretch of the imagination but I know that God delights in song so I do my best. After all, this is about a personal relationship and there is a lot of divine forgiveness given for my song.
I know all this may sound daunting to a beginner, but it is not meant to be mastered immediately. This is discipleship and requires persistence and patience. Once you make prayer, study and song a habit you will reap the sublime rewards of such discipline.