MEDITATION AS A PRIORITY IN CHRISTIAN LIFE
The French Philosopher Michel de Montaigne is quoted as having once said “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” Never is this truer in our current, fast-paced society.
With so many demands on our time and minds, it takes conscious effort to take a moment and allow ourselves the time we need to explore who we truly are. Even when we do make time, many people are struck on how to actually do this. The practice of meditation has certainly been recognized as a key method that can help.
The word meditation stems from meditatum a Latin term that means “to ponder”. Through the practice of meditation, we can seek to find a better connection with our body in everyday moments that we often let pass us by, and create stronger awareness for how our emotions influence our behavior.
Most religions include a form of prayer or meditation technique that sees the individual turning their thoughts away from everyday anxieties in search of grater self-awareness and presence in appreciating a greater perspective about life and their religion. This form of meditation is very close aligned with the practice and purpose of mindfulness.
There is no doubt that meditation is a discipline that improves one’s ability to focus and concentrate. It has also been medically proven to reduce stress and alleviate some physical ailments. However, these practicing prayer gain these same physical benefits but also profit Spiritually. While the aim of meditation includes longevity, happiness, and peace of mind, the peril of such a self-expanding ego instead of providing a pathway to greater humility and love. This pathway is found in Christian prayer which purposefully seeks salvation and eternal life with God, which is Union with the father, son and Holy Spirit. This prayer doesn’t try to achieve “self-realization” or “God realization’’; rather, it pursues the transcendent God who is active within us, and empowers us to unite our will with God’s. So having briefly considered both disciplines, it is clearly more profitable to invest time in payer.
It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind, you put certain questions to your Spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed. My first choice would be prayer, for we must quiet and focus our mind to open the dialog with our Spirit. Clear focused intent, stating what we are seeking, is the first step.
Silence, stillness, simplicity are the elements of meditation; Silence means letting go of thoughts. Stillness means letting go of desire. Simplicity means letting go of self-analysis. Meditating twice a day, the daily practice may take some time to develop. Be patient, when you give up, start again. You will find that a weekly meditation group and a connection with a community may help you develop this discipline. It is a discipline rather a technique. Experience is the teacher and this allows the benefits and fruits of meditation to pervade your mind and all aspects of your life. John Main said that “meditation verifies the truths of your faith in your own experience.”
I have spoken above about mediation but haven’t said you yet how to do it. The way of mediation I would recommend is in many ways Universal, but also the most integral part of the Christian tradition of prayer. In this tradition it is called the “prayer of the heart.” This distinguishes it from either mental prayer or the external forms of worship with which many Christians have come to identify prayer. In this way of meditation – praying in the heart, or what Jesus calls the “inner room” we are not speaking to God or thinking about God or asking God for things, meditation is not what you think but instead it is being with God.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:1-2). Biblical meditation involves takings a phrase, verse or passage or any Spiritual reflection and think carefully about it “silence”, pondering, and letting the Holy Spirit slowly make it alive within you. Then you pray it back to God. Meditation creates faith and expectation. Meditation focuses our thinking on God’s creation. Through meditation we come to know God, not just about Him. Through meditation we grow I our love for God’s word, helps us to obey God and be ready to do the right thing in a moment that requires a sudden choice.
“Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth, meditate on it daily, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).
Psalm 119 speaks over and over again about the value of God’s word and the importance of meditation. Meditation on the Scriptures will cause us to understand something of the mind and heart of God. Meditation changes us deeply, freeing us from negativity thinking because we are dwelling on the positive truth of Scripture. Meditation should always result in a response to God, whether it is repentance, thanksgiving, worship, obedience, or a change in attitude.
“What you think about in your unguarded moments reflects what your mind dwells upon. To keep your thoughts pure, you must guard what goes into your mind. The things you allow your mind to dwell on will be revealed by the way you live. If you focus on negative things, you will inevitably be a negative person. If you fill your mind with thoughts of Christ, you will become Christ like. What you fill your mind with is a matter of choice. Choose to concentrate on the magnificent truths of God, and they will create in you a noble character that brings glory to God” Henry Blackaby.
Sem. Robert Bigabwarugaba.
Katigondo National Major Seminary.