What is Contemplation?

The words "contemplation" and "contemplative" are used in many  different ways.  Sometimes they refer to a specific spiritual tradition, such as the tradition of Desert Fathers in Christianity or the contemporary revival of contemplative Christian practice, such as the teachings of Father Thomas Keating or John Main. You might also hear the terms used in relation to Buddhist practices of stillness and emptiness, or as an aspect of the contemporary Mindfulness movement. "Contemplation" has also used more generally to refer to a mode of interiority and introspection, or even a mode of philosophical inquiry. Given the diversity of meanings and connotations that the word has, we wanted to give some insight into how we relate to it, and what it means to us.