Awakening: What Does It Mean to Be Contemplative?

A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation,

Spiritual Direction and Soul Care

Hi Everyone, I pray that you, at this very moment, are experiencing the presence of God in your day. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak to your heart.

I am on vacation this week and next therefore we will be giving two encore offerings from the past, chosen for their popularity at the original time of publication. This week is an article originally published on September 16th 2016, titled…

What Does It Mean to Be Contemplative?

I would like to open with a brief prayer.

Dear Lord, Help us to contemplate your Presence and to hear you in our lives. Help us to move beyond simply thoughts about you into a deep abiding experience of You, and us in You. Lead us to a place of deep contemplation as we listen for your Presence in, though, and around one another. Lord, help us to rest where your light embraces our light in love. Help us to be spontaneously aware of your voice in the silence of your abiding Presence. We pray all these things in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

A contemplative is a person who is either trained or naturally endowed with an ability to pay close attention to God in their midst. At its center contemplation is interior silence that opens one’s spirit, soul, mind, and body to union with God. The stance of contemplation is to be open, non-judgmental, non-defensive and in the moment. The contemplative lives from a non-duel perspective where everything belongs and everything is sacred.

The contemplative moment is a moment where we become immersed in the reality of God’s presence, with no need to explain, describe, or understand; God’s presence just “is.” Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt called contemplation “a long, loving look at the real.” The contemplative moment is a moment of letting go; not pushing away, but simply self-emptying. In this kenotic moment we become more and more aware of God’s presence. Contemplation is a gift, by God’s grace, that is available to all people. Everybody has contemplative moments. This is due to the reality that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God. In other words there is a light within every human spirit that is receptive to the light of God. Thomas Merton when speaking of contemplation said.

“The union of the simple light of God with the simple light of the human spirit, in love, is contemplation”

Thomas Merton,

New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 292

We are not to try to summon up contemplative moments as much as we are to become aware of them as they present themselves. This awareness can be developed by training our spiritual senses to be listening and alert. Contemplation, in fact, is both the cause and the result of our work to develop listening hearts and minds. As we intentionally turn our attention to God, and begin to contemplate God, God will bless us with the grace to hear and thus to enter into ever deepening levels of contemplation.

“Simply stated, contemplation is a way to listen carefully, incline our ears, and come to a deeper awareness of God.”

Jean Stairs, Listening for the Soul, pg. 38

Therefore contemplation is not something we strive for, or to grasp in some way, but instead is already something we possess. The journey to contemplation always ends up in the same place in which we started albeit with a new awareness. This is a journey to our innermost selves where God dwells. But it is nonetheless a necessary journey, along which we jettison the things that block our awareness of Emmanuel, God with us. In other words…

“Contemplation is simply a way to be in touch with this God who already dwells in the inner core of our being.”

Jean Stairs,

Listening for the Soul, pg. 43

Save the Dates


  • Lectio Divina (3 hour seminar and practice) April 29th from 9:00am-12:00noon

  • Introduction to the Enneagram (6 hour seminar) May 20th from 9:00am to 3:00pm with 1 hour break for lunch.

  • Centering Prayer (3 hour seminar and practice) June 24th form 9:00am to 12:00noon

Please email for details

To register please call


Or visit our website

for a complete listing of available classes and a free syllabus for a class of your choice.

1 For more information on our eleven week “Contemplative Listening” study/experience please email and request your free syllabus

Want to learn more about the important practice of spiritual direction, or are looking for a spiritual director to walk with you in your spiritual journey?

Contact “The Awakening Institute”

321-298-8801 or visit our website

Coming in the Fall of 2017

Introduction to the Enneagram Eleven Week Course

This is an Eleven week (27.5 hour) course into the fantastic world

of the Enneagram.

This class will include an in-depth look into all nine spaces as well as their subtypes, wings, triads and Holy ideas, with emphasis on its usefulness within the context of spiritual direction and self-care.

Syllabus is now available;

Something to Ponder

Wisdom for the mystic, always involves a synergy of knowing and not knowing, discovery and mystery, action and stillness, words and silence.

Estelle Frankel,

The Wisdom of Not Knowing, Pg. 3

Do you know someone who would like to receive “Awakening” every Friday?

Send us their email address and we will make it happen

Coming this Fall

Christian Mysticism in Today’s World

Course Description: This is an 12 week course, (2 1/2 hours per session), designed to help the student discover the most important dynamics of Christian Mysticism, both in its historical context as well as the many ways it has, and continues to develop today. We will use a three-fold approach, which includes 1) Defining mysticism historically and what it means for disciples today. 2) Answering the question, “Who is a mystic?” and 3) the way of the mystic.

Syllabus now available, email:

Community Bible Experience

This is an encounter with God’s Word designed for those who wish to experience the Scriptures at a deep heart level, as a way to inner transformation.

Coming in the summer of 2017

The Gospel of John

Some recommendations for excellent spiritual guidance…

If you have others to share with our readers please send them to

Knowing as We Are Known

A five seek study in inner stillness

As taught by the author

Eugene T. Yotka

August 4, 11, 18, 25 and September1


at Epworth UMC,

7651 Johnson Street, Hollywood, Florida

Email for tuition costs, further details and to reserve your space

“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka,

Imagine Seeing Yourself as God See’s You; The True You.

Imagine Living in Full Awareness of The Lord’s Presence in Your Life

Imagine Having a Deeper Sense of Being One of God’s Beloved Children

Imagine Hearing God’s Still Small Voice in a More Profound Manner

We all long to live from the center of an authentic self. Gene Yotka has provided an important resource for helping us identify and express a spiritual life from that center. His book is a gift. – Dr. Steve Harper, Professor of Spiritual Formation, Asbury Theological Seminary

Gene has demystified contemplative prayer and made it accessible to the average believer. – Dr. Stephen Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine, Asbury Theological Seminary

From Gene’s book I learned a lot about how to truly pray. -- Salvatore Buttaci, Author and Poet

Eugene Yotka's book changed my life. I have struggled with years of feeling lonely even though I had people in my life that I felt connected with and having been saved since I was 3 years old and felt I had a relationship with the Lord. But this book and practicing inner stillness brought me to a place of knowing God like I have never known Him before. I no longer feel alone and feel empowered to practice inner stillness daily to continue this awesome relationship with God. --Wanda, Amazon review

“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka, offers a way to experience the true self where God speaks to our spirits telling us we are God’s children. We are created to live in the Presence of God, here and now, and to know inward stillness, peace, and tranquility as a way of life.

Available for $12.00 from The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction and Soul Care

Immerse yourself in that still place within, in which God speaks to the true self that you have been created to be. This book is more than simply information about inner stillness; it is a guide into the experience of inner stillness itself. This is the author’s journey to that place where God speaks to our spirits and calls us children. This is a call not so much to do something as much as it is a call to be who God created us to be.

A Gathering of Spiritual Directors

This coming spring The Awakening Institute will host a gathering of spiritual directors. The reason for the gathering is to come together in prayer and to seek discernment regarding ways we can, together, raise awareness within the church of how spiritual direction can be a vehicle by which God’s presence and voice can be more deeply felt and more clearly heard, at both individual and congregational levels. If you are a spiritual director and would like to join in this conversation please contact Gene Yotka at 321-298-8801 or email for additional details.

Have Something You Would Like to Share?

Awakening would be blessed to receive original articles, poems, or artistic work that would be helpful and edifying for those interested in Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, and/or Soul Care for future publication.

Please submit via email to

Recommended Reading

(Additional to our daily Scripture reading)

  • Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, by David-Steindl Rast

  • I Am A Follower, by Leonard Sweet

  • Becoming Human, By Jean Vanier

  • Knowing As We Are Known, by Eugene T. Yotka

  • Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer

  • Desiring God’s Will, by David Benner

  • Walking In The Light, by Steve Harper

  • Thoughts in Solitude, by Thomas Merton

  • Incarnation: The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth, by Will Willimon

  • The Mystic Way of Evangelism, by Elaine A. Heath

  • A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer

  • The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen

  • Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity, by Norman Wirzba

  • Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr

  • Between the Dark and the Daylight, by Joan Chittister

  • New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton

  • Love Henri, by Henri Nouwen

  • New! The Divine Dance, by Richard Rohr

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