Meditation

Meditation used to be something I misunderstood and viewed with a mixture of skepticism and awe. Some Baptists/Christians say meditation is too New Agey and invites the Devil in… or something silly like that. I think they say such things because they don’t actually understand what meditation is. See the definition here and/or allow me to sum it up for you.
To meditate is to focus on something, particularly something spiritual.
Prayer is meditation. Thinking about Scripture (as commanded in the Bible) is meditation. Mary meditated as she “pondered these things in her heart” after she found Jesus in the temple speaking as a learned adult rather than the child he appeared to be. Quoting passages like The Lord’s Prayer or the Twenty Third Psalm is meditation. Meditation is Biblical.
Anyway. Growing up I viewed meditation as some weird thing Asian monks did. Pastors and teachers warned against the evils of meditation, yoga, and anything else “New Age” so I saw these things as negative. Negative and mysterious. Fast forward to my post-Christian days as I explore forbidden fruits and discover the truth about them. In looking for ways to help myself heal from and cope with chronic illness, I read a lot about meditation and guided imagery. What was this nebulous thing called mediation? How did people sit and think about nothing for hours upon end? Was it just craziness? I looked into it some, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I came to understand meditation.

I first tried meditation as an aid to help me fall asleep. Then I sought to use it as a balm for the stress of life. It was quite helpful, but I found it difficult to calm my effectively. Life got busier and I forgot about meditation. I needed its calming influence in my life, though, and reinstated it in my life recently. In lieu of focusing on “nothing” (clearing my mind is hard!), I began using guided imagery. Guided imagery (or guided mediation) has worked so much better for me! Having someone else guide me – via a recording or in person – is easier than guiding myself, but I think guiding myself is good exercise for my brain. I try to meditate daily, even if it’s only for a few moments. The more I meditate the more calm and stress-free I feel. Meditation feels spiritual to me. It nourishes my spirit and helps me find balance.
I find a quiet spot where I can be alone. Peaceful place outdoors are especially nice. If I’m indoors I like to light a candle or some incense to help me relax. I find a comfortable way to sit or lay down and then begin by counting backwards from 10, inserting the names of colors between each number. Focusing on that task successfully guides me into a state of meditation. If I’m in pain or feeling tense, I find it helpful to focus on relaxing each part of my body until my body feels soft and heavy. This feeling is remarkably peaceful. Then I may turn my focus on any specific things that need my attention – problems, concerns, etc. When I used to pray as a Christian I often discovered answers/solutions as I focused on what was going on in my life – I experience the same thing now, which is not surprising since I was meditating before. If I am struggling with guilt or other negative emotions I remind myself of positive things through stating affirmations. Affirmations have been very helpful! In the past I found comfort in affirmations such as “I am a child of God,” “my sins are washed away,” or any number of other things Christians tend to say. My affirmations may have changed since then, but the power of positive thinking has not! Sometimes as I meditate, I do end up thinking about nothing other than the fact that I’m breathing, and it is quite nice. It’s all quite nice and is something I look forward to every day.
Many, and perhaps all, religious traditions call for or incorporate meditation into their practices. I see it as a universally-held spiritual practice that is of benefit to everyone. I’m very glad that my hyper-conservative, fundie background did not ultimately prevent me from enjoying this peaceful practice.

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