There are many Christians who are either unfamiliar with meditation or concerned that it’s inappropriate to practice. However, a brief look at the actual substance of meditation should put any concerns at rest and demonstrate the value of meditation for followers of Jesus today.
Meditation is a way to become mindful of the present, creating space to hear what God is speaking in the present moment rather than allowing our minds to run unchecked. We’re surrounded by noise, choose to add more noise, and may not even realize how much negative noise is coming from our own heads.
Christian meditation is a way to become mindful of what we are thinking so that our thoughts can be open to direction from God.
Stephanie Vozza writes about the basics of meditation for Fast Company:
Mindful people—those who live in the present—can step back and stay on the riverbank, watching their current of thoughts and not getting swept away by their content.
Meditation fosters mindfulness, but the practice seems difficult in today’s world of constant stimulation: “People think the goal of meditation is to empty the mind,” says Brooks. “It’s not about clearing the mind; it’s about focusing on one thing. When the mind wanders, the meditation isn’t a failure. Our brain is like a wayward puppy, out of control. Catching it and putting it back to the object of focus is the mediation.”
Brooks says meditating is like exercise; a full workout is preferred, but there is value in short bursts.
“Research shows that a total of 15 minutes of meditating each day for several weeks produces detectable, positive changes in the brain as well as corresponding reductions in stress, anxiety, and an enhanced sense of well-being,” says Brooks. “You can get the benefits of a formal meditation practice by weaving mini-meditations into your daily life.”
Source: Fast Company
Vozza adds a few simple prompts for meditation that you can incorporate throughout your day:
- Walking Meditation
- Red Light Meditation (turn off your radio while waiting at red lights)
- Exercise Meditation
- Eating/Drinking Meditation
- Waiting Meditation
- Task-Oriented Meditation
For instance, if you’re waiting in line or doing the dishes, turn off the radio or a podcast in order to become aware of God’s presence. I’ve often turned to a prayer word such as “mercy” or “beloved.” I also use the Jesus prayer: “Jesus Christ, only Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I have incorporated all of these practices into my life at one point or another and have discovered that left to my own devices I am constantly reliving the past or fearing the future. By practicing these simple meditation practices I’m no longer at the mercy of my guilt or fears. I’m learning to live by faith and trust God in new, deeper ways.
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