I grew up in the Midwestern conservative Christian movement of the 1990s, a place and time where yoga and meditation were taboo, viewed as gateways that could let in “evil” or “demonic” spirits. I mention this because I know that my experience isn’t unique, and it may still be relevant for some of you and the communities of faith you are in today. And that’s ok; people are allowed to hold their beliefs, even if we disagree with them (even if you disagree with me), there is enough space and grace in the ocean of God’s love to hold these differing views. So, as we move in this idea of meditation and faith, and how on God’s green earth they can co-exist, I would encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and curiosity — are these practices that will draw you closer? Is this a space that God could use in your life? Or is it something that you need to wait to visit? Take a moment right now to pause and listen… I’ll wait…
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but that pause you just took can be viewed as meditation. I promise I wasn’t trying to trick you. Rather, I was using a simple tool to show you just how natural meditation can actually be. I do this because you may or may not have all sorts of preconceived notions about what mediation is. Creating visions in your mind of perfectly postured meditaters sitting cross legged, propped up on their cushions, hands resting on their thighs with their palms facing up, index finger and thumb touching in Gyan Mudra (the gesture of knowledge and wisdom), perhaps quietly chanting OM. And sure, that is one way of going about it, but the truth is meditation can look and be practiced in many different ways (such as intentionally taking a pause). Without even knowing it, I would wager that you already practice what is known as “devotional” meditation through worship and prayer. So perhaps, meditation isn’t so scary or forign after all.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines meditation as: “The act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed.” It stems from the Latin word meditatum, which means “to ponder.” I don’t know about you, but in our fast-paced daily lives, my attention is very rarely on only one thing — try five things (and that’s in a calm moment!) — so taking some time to slow down and focus my mind is a game changer.
Speaking of the mind… another rumor floating around is that we “empty” our minds in meditation, which is how the devil gets ahold of us during practice, such a pesky fellow. I have major issues with this rumor for many reasons, however, instead of ranting about it I will simply tell you why I (respectfully) believe it is wrong. Meditation allows us to quiet or “still” our minds, rather than “empty” them. Author, speaker and mindfulness teacher Diana Winston often uses the analogy of a snow globe to illustrate this point: our minds are like a snow globe all shaken up, thousands of thoughts floating about all of the time (the average person having 12,000-60,000 thoughts in a day), and in meditation, we allow the body to become still, and in doing so we find that (over time) the mind can become a bit more still also. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” But if we are never still, how can we know? When we sit in meditation, when we become still in our bodies and our minds, we can more clearly hear and know the voice of God. When we allow our thoughts to settle we create space for “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) to take hold. When we become aware of our thoughts we can more easily replace them with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable (Philippians 4:8).
In Holy Yoga “land,” as I like to call it, we talk about taking our practice “off the mat”; meditation is the same. These practices aren’t just about the two minutes or two hours you sit in stillness and silence; it is about what that time will create in your life, the fruits it will produce. In time, you will notice more grace, compassion, ease, less anxiety, more peace, more joy, a sense of presence in your daily life and more awareness of the underlying habits and thoughts that have been sabotaging you for years. Meditation, like Holy Yoga and like your quiet time, can be a space of healing and transformation.
There are about 2,000 other things I would like to share with you in this blog post. However, as to not turn this little document into a dictionary, I would like to invite you to come and see for yourself.
I have the honor of leading a four-week study on mindfulness meditation in just a few weeks time. Being With: The Transformational Power of Practicing Presence will kick off on Saturday, September 10, and 10am CST. Holy Yoga is generously offering this series FREE of charge! This is your chance to come and learn about how God might be inviting you into the space of meditation. I can not wait to see you there.
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