Contemplation and meditation are two words in English to express the Indian idea of Dhyana - says Maharshi Aurobindo. “Contemplation means regarding mentally a single object, image, idea so that knowledge about the object, image or idea may arise naturally in the mind by force of the concentration . Both these things are forms of Dhyana “- Integral Yoga p. 146
In ordinary sense contemplation is thinking profoundly or deeply about something. We think deeply and seriously when we fail to achieve something we were trying desperately. We think deeply about problems faced by us at office or home. We think profoundly before we take up a new project about all its aspects.
In spirituality contemplation means to concentrate on God, to think about Him, to concentrate on Him ( image, any other form ). Plato thought that through contemplation, the soul may ascend to knowledge of the Form of the God or other Divine Forms.
Maharshi Patanjali uses the term Dharana for contemplation. He defines dharana as देश बन्ध चित्तस्य धारणा- Dharana is holding the mind on to some particular object. Meaning thereby that “Dharana is when the mind holds on to some object, either in the body, or outside the body, and keep itself in that state”- Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda p. 218. It is preliminary stage of Dhyana- meditation. Dharana or contemplation is for shorter duration but when that dharana becomes/ remains uninterrupted for long time it becomes Dhyana.
What should be the object of contemplation- could be anything- any problem you are facing, idea, image, subject. It is your choice. But spiritual contemplation will invariably have Brahaman ( God) as the object of concentration. He should think God in all, all in aged and all as God. It is immaterial whether it is Impersonal God or Personal God.
Conditions that are essential for contemplation- prerequisites
Solitary place where there is no disturbance
If spiritual contemplation- sit in any meditative posture
When mind is cool, calm and relaxed and not when it is agitated and disturbed.
For spiritual contemplation morning and evening times are best.
Sit in an silent place. Better in a meditative pose ( sukhasan, Padmasana or Vajrasana). Keep the head, neck and chest straight. Close your eyes. First focus on your breath for few minutes- when breath has become slow, deep and rhythmic, start contemplation on your chosen idea, object, subject, issue or any form of God ( if spiritual). In the beginning your mind will wander here and there and not remain focused on the object of contemplation but bring it back. For sometime this struggle remains but don’t give up . With practice it will start concentrating, initially may be for a minute or two but with persistent practice, eventually it will. If you persist, you will reap amazing benefits of contemplation by finding solutions to all your problems and a much clearer and focused mind.