Contemplation Exercises

The education of the will is the object of our existence

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Contemplation exercises involve posing a question to yourself, such as: "What do I really want?" and then exploring, without editing, the thoughts and images your mind generates.This kind of contemplative investigation can yield some interesting experiences and help you access your Core Motivation.

Guided Contemplation I: Ask Alice

Alice in Wonderland did not know which way to go, so she asked the Cheshire Cat. He, in turn, asked her a question that makes all the difference. Please click the link to: Ask Alice (approximately 20 minutes). Follow the script, let your attention go wherever it wants to go, and watch what happens.

Guided Contemplation II: Exploring Meaning

To research your core motivation you are invited to participate in an experience that combines a trance-formative induction  with the intention to consider the questions listed below:

  • Who am I and where am I going?
  • What is meaningful for me?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What do I really want for my finite life span?
  • What must I do to get what I want?

So now, or when it is convenient for you, get into a dispassionate mind set so you can access your best cognitive resources, listen to the Short Harmony audio file to quiet the mind, let your attention go wherever it wants to go, and watch what happens. Once you return to your Rational Processing System, make notes of your experiences, imagery, insights.

Guided Contemplation III:

Following the same protocol as above, consider these questions:

  • What qualities do I most admire in others that I would like to cultivate in myself?
  • How would I most like to be remembered?
  • What is most meaningful to me?
  • With which philosophy, spiritual truths, or abstract principles do I most identify?
  • Looking back over my life, what activities have I found most satisfying?
  • When have I felt most alive?
  • What do I have in my life that I most cherish and enjoy?

If you are ready to declare your Core Motivation, please click here. Otherwise, continue your research by using Nietzsche's concept of Eternal Recurrence.

Thus Spake Zarathustra

Nietzsche's protagonist, Zarathustra describes two roads:

"One leads from the past, the other from the future, meeting at a gateway where I now stand (the present moment). But the complex of causes in which I am entangled will recur — it will create me again! I am part of these causes of the eternal recurrence. I shall return, with this sun, with this earth . . . not to a new life or a similar life. I shall return eternally to this identical and self-same life, in the greatest things and in the smallest, to teach once more the recurrence of all things."

Nietzsche was proud of his 'discovery' of Eternal Recurrence, and there is more to it than at first meets the eye. The value of this exercise is unrelated to the validity of the concept; instead, the focus is on the choices you would make if it were true. Suspending your disbelief and acting as if this weird premise was valid can reveal your core motivation.

Thought Experiment: Eternal Recurrence

Consider the conflict you will experience during a future high-risk situation you are likely to encounter in the future. In evaluating your choices assume nothing but the premise of Eternal Recurrence. Act as if the path you select now will be the very same path you will be condemned to repeat for eternity. How would you behave if you were free from all constraints? Abandon all the "shoulds" and all the restrictions associated with the morality conditioned into you since childhood. For this experiment we are purposely choosing to ignore any concept of good and bad, right and wrong. You are free to make whatever choice you want, knowing that you will encounter the same choice point and make the same decision with the same consequences again during each of your recurring lifetimes — for eternity.

There are other methods you can use to examine your values and motives, and I encourage you to continue and refine your personal research. At some point you must bring contemplation to closure so you can move on to action. The Penultimate Step of the Contemplation Stage will transform the experiential work you've done into motivational tools that will help you cope motivational conflict during the Action Stage.

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