The word “Meditation” is from the Latin meaning “the process of carefully or deeply thinking about something.” In English it also refers to the practices various groups use in order to do this “think deeply” thing.
Deep thought in the sense of “Meditation” uses the universal human capacity to think “Attentively” rather than use our capacity for “Directed Thought.” Some people refer to “Attentive Though” as Mindfulness. In attentive intelligence, we observe the stream of consciousness flowing between our ears rather than manage our thinking.
The Freedom We Gain
Since meditation is characterized by stepping back from our plans for tomorrow or our 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 the sort of intelligence your Mom taught you to use, except you don’t have to fall asleep to access it.
What Makes Meditation Christian
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 experience a spiritual battle within. Therefore, I believe and act on contradictory beliefs. Have you noticed the same about yourself? As a Christian I have the freedom to lay my darkness before God for healing and wisdom. In his letter, James comments on the process of healing. (James 5:15-17) Most people chuckle the laughter of recognition when we hear the words of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland.
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. Christians meditation in order to hear God’s will for daily living. Through the discipline God brings considerable resolution to our conflict. Jesus said that in his peace we gain that sense of wholeness that comes from knowing that our Creator walks with us in all of life’s moments.
Long before Jesus was born God’s people knew that daily listening for God’s presence had great power. When Solomon was crowned King in Israel, he had a vision of God asking him, “What one thing do you most want.”
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 The Message
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.