The act of self-emptying through letting go of thoughts and returning to the "sacred word" has helped me to be more peacefully present in general. I sometimes like to pair this with a mantra, like the Jesus Prayer, which I'll say while going about my day. In CP the sacred word is only returned to when you sense that you are lost in thought, whereas the mantra is more rhythmic and consistent. I also like Ram Dass's mantra "I am Loving Awareness." I got into the groove with that at Phish on NYE!
My primary contemplative practice is centering prayer. I currently practice 20 minutes a day, usually in the morning after waking up. I've been practicing much more diligently after starting spiritual direction, and since starting to practice with Marjorie. We try to pray together once per week when possible, often in a chapel. My experience with the prayer has been very positive. The basic mechanism is to empty out the self in order to "surrender to the presence and action of God within."
Here's an excerpt from Henri Nouwen's Reaching Out. The Last line is: "And when he left I knew that he had revealed to me what community really means." Perhaps we can take some time to reflect on similar experiences. Perhaps we can cultivate gratitude for those friendships, places, and communities that have promoted moments of deep presence, perception, and connection. And perhaps we can commit ourselves to being more sensitively present to the immediate neighbor, and to Christ in them.
A progressive, intentional, and contemplative Christian community is coming in several months!