This past week, I have become convinced that people often experience infused contemplation and that they tend to label it as “zoning out.” The things that people have shared through Facebook and the comments sections, as well as multiple conversations with a variety of different people, have convinced me of the link. Although there is definitely a need for some distinctions to be made (not all “Zoning-Out is contemplation), I still think there are many insights to be had with this connection. At the very least, I hope that such conversations encourage people to recognize that they can have a deep relationship with the Lord and that contemplative prayer is within the reach of all people.
However, I have also discovered that some people seem to fight against contemplation as well. For a variety of reasons, they tend to think that for prayer to be “good” they must be actively engaging the intellect in discursive meditation and reflection. In other words, they believe that when they “zone-out” they have done something wrong. Instead of going with the flow, they try through force to get back to the meditation they intended to have. This often produces frustration and anxiety.
I am convinced that people need to be given permission to “zone-out” during prayer. By this, I mean that if your intuition seems to be guiding you towards letting go of control, this may be a genuine gift of grace and a prompting of the Spirit. I believe that you should surrender to this inspiration and let yourself “zone-out.” Furthermore, you should be content in meditation to simply rest in the Lord. Prayer is not, after all, about what you do. As you open your heart in this way, I believe that you will begin to see a lot of benefits in your daily life.
You may not “do” anything in prayer, but you will soon discover that the experience is refreshing and rejuvenating. By surrendering to the work of the Holy Spirit, we allow God’s love to penetrate deep into our subconscious. “Zoning-out” provides a powerful opportunity for the mind to rest and for things buried deep below your surface awareness to come to light. In my own meditation, I have found that such experiences often transform my day in a way analogous to a good nap. I come out of the time rejuvenated and ready to engage the world.
So, I encourage you to let yourself zone-out in prayer. Let go of the need to “do” and let yourself be open to the endless possibilities of meditation.
Image is of St. Bridget of Sweden