The word Meditate is from the Latin meaning “to think carefully or deeply about something.” In English it also refers to the practices various groups use in order to do this, “think deeply.”
Deep thought in the sense of “Meditation” uses the universal human capacity to think “Attentively” rather than use our capacity for “Directed Thought.” In attentive intelligence we are more of an observer of the stream of consciousness flowing between our ears. We learn that our self is something different than our thoughts, actions and experiences. “We are human beings, not human doings,” as the saying goes.
Since meditation is characterized by stepping back from our specific thoughts and plans for tomorrow and reactions to yesterday, it is also a practice that allows our experience to speak for itself. We begin to see others as selves and not extensions of our own projects or feelings. New possibilities emerge. Did you Mom ever say, “Sleep on it. It will look different in the morning?” When we take time to meditate we access intentionally the sort of intelligence your Mom taught you to use, except you don’t have to fall asleep to access it.
Belief in God is unnecessary for valuing meditation. Cultivating our ability to Meditate is enhancing our capacities as a human being. Having said that, Christian Meditation makes use of this God given, universal capacity as an act of faithfulness to Jesus Christ.
James wrote, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8 He then goes into a short list of things we have to decide to do before we can draw near. Traditionally that short list of things we have to do is called our “Spiritual Discipline.” A “Disciple” is a person who has a discipline they use to follow a teacher’s instruction. A Disciple of Christ uses the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures preserved by the Christian community as content for thought, guide, encouragement and correction (2 Tim 3:16).
Further, as a Christian I know that I am integrated as a person. I believe and act on contradictory beliefs. For me, life after 20 has been learning to recognize my inconsistent belief systems. As a Christian I have the freedom to lay them before God for healing and wisdom. In his letter, James comments on the process of healing. (James 5:15-17) Most people chuckle the laugher of recognition when we hear the words of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland.
Alice laughed. `There’s no use trying,’ she said `one ca’n’t believe impossible things.’
I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
Internal warfare is not funny, however. It is frustrating and at time can be very destructive. Seeking to hear God’s will for our lives brings considerable resolution to the conflict. Jesus said that his peace was largely gaining that sense of wholeness that comes from knowing that our Creator walks with us in all of life’s moments.
Another focus of Christian Meditation is to act on the words form the Lord’s prayer, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Similar words are found in the Hebrew Prayer called the Kaddish and many Jews meditate with an intent quite parallel to Christians. This practice focuses on God’s leading in how we use power. When Solomon was crowned King in Israel, he had a vision of God asking him for the one thing he most wanted.
9 “Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?” 1 Kings 3:9
What I teach is cultivating a God listening heart so we can grown in wisdom in using the influence we have to bless others according to the values God taught Israel through Abraham and Jesus and the people in between.
Whether your practice, what is your experience with meditation?