I am reading Patricia Hampl's "Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime." She writes prose as lush as the Matisse paintings that she describes. The following is a quote from chapter 1 and has been an enormous help in my trying to be more comtemplative:
"Can you say," I once inquired of a sixty-year-old cloistered nun who had lived (vibrantly, it seemed) from the age of nineteen in her monastery cell, "what the core of contemplative life is?"
"Leisure," she said, without hesitation, her china blue eyes cheerfully steady on me. I suppose I expected her to say, "Prayer." Or maybe "The search for God." Or "Inner peace." Inner peace would have been good. One of the big-ticket items of spirituality.
She saw I didn't see.
"It takes time to do this," she said finally.
Her "this" being the kind of work that requires abdication from time's industrial purpose (doing things, getting things). By choosing leisure she had bid farewell to the fevered enterprise of getting-and -spending whereby, as the poet said, we lay waste our powers.