We are conditioned to read with a “segregated mind,” where we suspend our prayerful presence and start thinking “about” God and life. A contemplative orientation encourages us to maintain some background sense of the Presence while we are reading, some way to let our mind rest in our spiritual heart’s direct presence in God, at least sporadically.
You may have your own way to let your mind remain consciously connected to your spiritual heart while you read. If not, try something like the following just before you begin reading: Close your eyes; take several long, slow breaths; let your mind bathe a moment in the spacious fullness of your spiritual heart’s direct presence in God. You may want to let rise a simple prayer phrase that expresses your desire to “hear” what you need to hear that serves what is called for in your spiritual life and leadership. What is given you during the reading time may be “set off” by what you read, but it may not be directly connected with it.
So don’t read primarily for “objective content,” 2 women contemplating but rather read with your mind in your heart, listening through what you read for whatever may be given you. When you finish reading, be quiet a moment and ask to be shown anything you need to particularly remember from this “prayerful reading” time. You may want to write anything that’s been given in a journal, if you have one. When you’ve finished, see if you can retain your intent to continue living the day given to the loving living Presence, given to your deep self in God, as you move on to your next activity. However “in and out” this aware presence may be for you (hopefully during the “out” times without self-judgment, just self acceptance of what’s possible), you may find your desire for such presence becoming the golden thread that weaves together and illumines the fragments of the day.
From Shalem’s Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats Bibliography Introduction.