The Gift of Meditation
When we think of meditation, sometimes we get the image of a monk or holy person chanting and sitting in a trance with crossed legs, surrounded by candles and incense. The practice is often associated with Buddhism; however, meditation is also a tool for discipleship in our Christian walk. Meditation is a spiritual discipline that lies at the heart of the context of our faith as followers of Christ. Meditation can also mean contemplation, pondering, thoughtful reflection, and imagery. Meditation is linked closely to prayer because meditation is a form of prayer. When we meditate, we clear our minds and let God do the talking. Meditation is a gift from God that allows us a closer communion with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
What is meditation?
Meditation involves the use of a particular image or verse from the biblical text to focus our hearts and minds on the presence of God in our midst. Through meditation, we allow the time and space to let God consume our thoughts until God’s words are our words. Recite aloud together the verse from Psalm 119. The people of Israel understood the importance of taking the time to listen to the Word of God through the reading and hearing of the Law or Torah. You may have even participated in something called a guided meditation where a story or a biblical passage is read by a group leader who invites you to focus on a particular area of your faith. Meditation involves a physical stillness and silence accompanied by an emptying of the mind to allow, what the Trappist monk Thomas Merton called, the echo of God to resonate through us.
How do we practice meditation?
Meditation is not confined to chunks of time we take out of our schedules. It can also be the state of mind in which we actively experience life in the midst of our busyness. As we live our daily lives, we can contemplate or meditate continuously on some thought or image in our minds. Have you ever had a song or jingle stuck in your head? Mediation as a state of mind is very similar (except not so annoying). Words or images from the Scriptures get “stuck” in your mind. You are left repeating them continually throughout the day, offering you a more peaceful and prayerful approach to your sometimes hectic life. However you practice meditation, it, like prayer, frees up time out of your busy schedule to be in communion with God. We rest our voices and still our hearts and minds to listen for God’s voice in our lives. The practice of meditation or contemplation offers us the kind of peace we find only when we are in the presence of God, and we know we are fine.
Choose a simple phrase, such as God is good, upon which to meditate. Allow some silence for you to consider God’s goodness. Then, take some time in the quiet to think about how good God has been to you. Listen to what God might be saying to you about God’s goodness. After a few minutes have passed, offer an “amen” and journal about the experience.
Put into practice
- Commit to thirty minutes each day this week to spend in meditation.
- Choose a life situation you are facing on which to contemplate. Keep a journal to write about your experiences.
- Memorize a phrase, a Scripture, a song, and so forth to weave into your thoughts for a week. Listen for God’s voice as you play the phrase over and over in your heart.