Some guidance for contemplative reading of poetry or any shopping list as you wait in line social distancing,
1. Print out your chosen reading and fold in half. Set it down in a quiet place where you will practice. Begin with a period of silent sitting. We recommend at least 3-5 minutes. Open your copy of the reading and read it aloud. Pay attention to the literal words, rather than trying to interpret the text. Let the words penetrate
2. Read the text repeatedly for yourself silently, move slowly and just stay with the actual words. Develop a sense of curiosity about the words you are reading. While meanings may begin to dawn, do not try to make them consistent or coherent. Just notice how it feels to stay with one relatively short piece of writing for an extended period of time
3. Return to silent sitting for a few minutes
4. Return once more to the reading, this time focusing on the analysis of the text. Reflect on the interpretation of the words and on the various meaning(s) within the reading. You can make notes on the text if you like.
5. Some questions:
What was it like to just stay with the words?
What was it like to spend time reflecting deeply on the meaning? What layers of meaning arose for you as you repeatedly re-read the text?
6. Return to silent sitting practice for a few minutes
7. Return to the text a third time. This time record an audio note or write a response to the reading, let your own voice surface, you could also draw a picture, journal, or write your own poem/prose in response to this reading
8. Some final questions:
What was noticed before, during, or just after the practice?
How did your relationship to the text develop over the course of the activity?
Was something as habitual as reading experienced in a new way through this practice?
Today, find a favourite piece of writing to explore in new ways and practice some contemplative reading. We have produced a pretty visual with these instructions here, in case that makes you more inspired to do the practice.