Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guest Post by Kelly Kilpatrick

Contemplation and Stream of Consciousness in the Art of Expression

In our hectic world we are constantly assaulted by advertisements, images, and sound bytes. Technology keeps us plugged in at all times, rarely giving us the opportunity to actually be alone with our thoughts. The art of contemplation is something that has been lost along the way, but it can be a crucial part of the writing process that ultimately brings about many benefits when used to its fullest capacity.

Getting Started

Contemplation involves being alone with your thoughts without interruption. Though there is no right or wrong way to just sit and think, guiding the process can help maximize the opportunity for those "eureka" moments.

Take out a notebook or journal and make a list of 100 questions that you would be interested in exploring more deeply. The questions themselves can pertain to any topic you would like to look at in a variety of ways. Spiritual questions, relationship questions, and goal-oriented questions are just a few things you may want to consider.

You will notice right away that the first handful of questions come quite easily. Remember that this is a living document and hierarchical order is not important; getting the questions themselves down is your starting point. As your list grows, you will notice that the questions are becoming more and more involved. This is a good thing.

What Comes Next

During the creation of your list, you may already know what the first contemplative question you wish to ponder will be. If not, simply go through your list and select a question that piques your interest.

Find a quiet room where you will be able to sit without disruption. Turn off your cell phone and shut down the computer. Notice how liberating it is to be unreachable even if only for a bit.

Write the question you'd like to contemplate in large letters and hang it up somewhere in your private room. Allow your mind to roam and look back at the question when you realize you've gone off on a tangent. Let your thoughts come and go; we have thousands of thoughts a day. Continue to monitor your thought processes for as long as you are comfortable doing so.

When you have finished, pull out your notebook or journal once more and do some stream of consciousness writing. Don't censor yourself at all and never let the pen or pencil leave the paper, within reason. This type of activity helps free your mind of mental clutter and soon you may find the right track. If not, you have been able to successfully disconnect and contemplate a question that is important to you personally.

Practicing the art of contemplation is a great way to ground your thoughts and appreciate time alone without interruption. Regularly participating in this activity will help to hone your skills as a writer and a thinker over time—the implications and possibilities are virtually limitless.

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of universities online. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com