Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism
Ave Maria!

It is my understanding that true comtemplative prayer is a GIFT.  One cannot have methods and so forth to 'make' it happen.  But one can certainly do all possible to prepare the soul for that gift.  St. Teresa of Avila wrote that this is something that all souls 'can' attain. (does not mean all will).

I steer clear of Thomas Merton myself but I have had others say that his initial writings were very beneficial to them and I accept that.

As to distractions...again, I think of St. Teresa. She said distractions were like horses passing by the window and one cannot help but glance at them. I recall also that St. Francis de Sales wrote that when we realize we have fallen into distractions, we gently place ourselves back on track without getting upset at ourselves or anything like that. We carry on.  I sometimes offer to God even my distractions. I do not think that anyone can pray without being bothered by distractions at least some of the time.

I think those true touches of God are not common but a soul knows when it has experienced it, that true contemplation.  The saints tell us not to seek consolation in prayers and sometimes I suspect that is what some folks think contemplation is.  But rather we are told that the true love for God shines forth when we have NO consolation, we are totally bothered by distractions, and can hardly seem to be praying at all. Yet we are struggling to do so.  The merit is in the struggle.  How many times have we been at adoration or even right after communion and we find our minds a thousand miles away or so totally numb that not only is there no feeling,  there is no thought hardly.  And we say to our Love, Lord, I have no words for you today but I give You my time and my heart and all that I am; use me please for Your glory.  And sometimes at a late adoration hour when we are so tired and all we can manage to give is our tiredness. And the Lord accepts the gift. It comes from a heart that wishes to return His love and that is enough.

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