While Christian meditation is becoming more popular, there are many people wondering if Christian’s should even be meditating. In this article, I will discuss why Christian’s should be meditating. In addition, I will explain how to get started on your own journey with Christian meditation.
Should Christian’s Meditate? And If So, How?
Before I answer that question let’s first define what it means to mediate. Dictionary.com synonyms for mediate or meditation include to ponder, to reflect, to ruminate, to contemplate, and to mull over.
If we’re honest, these are things that most people do everyday. The problem is however, that most people meditate, ponder reflect upon, and mull over things that are not conducive to peace, joy, harmony, and God’s spirit.
Unfortunately, Christians are just as guilty as others for allowing negativity, worry, anger, fear, and doubt to rob them of their peace of mind and steal their joy.
God said, “I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me.”
In Joshua 1:8, we are told to meditate on God’s word day and night if we want to have success in life.
Therefore, shouldn’t every Christian be a meditating Christian? But I think that the question isn’t should Christians meditate because the answer is an obvious yes. Even the Bible admonishes us to mediate. I think that the question that remains in the mind of many Christians is “how” are we to meditate? And the answer to that question lies in what you want to achieve from your meditation experience.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to, “Cast down every thought and imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Well, as you know that is easier said than done. Many of us are holding unto ungodly mindsets that keep us from experiencing God’s best in our lives.
If you are plagued with worry, fear, and negative thinking, you must learn how to gain control over your mind and thoughts and meditation is one of the best ways to do this. By meditating on a sacred word or a passage of scriptures, you can learn to quiet your thoughts and take authority over and root out destructive thinking. This type of meditation, often referred to as scripture, passage, or mantra meditation can help us learn to train our mind.
Psalms 37:7 tells us to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Many Christians have a hard time being still. Busyness has become a cornerstone in American life. They don’t know how to relax or even how to dwell in God’s presence without being distracted or their mind wanders all over the place. Again, meditating on the Lord for 30 minutes a day in silence and solitude can help Christians learn how to be still before the Lord. Being still and dwelling in God’s presence allow believers to be enveloped with God’s love and spirit, something many Christians have never experienced before. We can’t dwell in God’s presence and not be changed. Every person who had an encounter with Jesus didn’t leave the same.
The Psalmist said, I have hid God’s word in my heart that I might not sin against him. (Psalms 119:11) Through meditation on God’s word, we go beyond a cursory reading of the scriptures. Instead of grazing lightly over God’s word, through meditation, God’s word is able to deeply penetrate our hearts where it can actually take root and grow a harvest. There is a big difference between reading God’s word and mulling over, pondering, reflecting upon, and contemplating it. One is superficial, the other is transformative. Meditating on God’s word makes it become real to us. We can meditate on God’s word by slowly and methodically reading the scriptures and then reflecting upon how they relate to our current life or situation. Or we can practice scripture or passage meditation, where we slowly and silently repeat a verse or passage of scripture as we sit in God’s presence for a period of 30 minutes. Both methods will change our lives.
I believe there is no greater and more important practice in the life of a Christian than being still before God. Until we separate ourselves unto the Lord and renew our minds, we will always struggle with the pulls and temptations of modern life. Meditation creates a greater space for God to fill our lives with more of him.
I love what the prophet said Isaiah 50:4, “He [God] awakens me morning by morning, awakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” Our fellowship and intimacy with God will always be in direct proportion to the time we abide in Him and subdue our ego- which begins with conquering and renewing our mind.
Meditation is most often identified with Eastern religions, especially Buddhism and Hinduism. However, meditation is actually a universal spiritual practice that can be found at the core of all major religious traditions. At its heart, it is about taking time to find silence and stillness in our lives. It is also a practice that allows us to build a closer relationship with God. Follow these steps to incorporate Christian meditation into your life.
Step One: Choosing a Mantra, Sacred Word, or Scriptural Phrase
Most meditative practices use what is called a mantra or a sacred word. A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated throughout the meditation in order to focus the mind. Without a mantra our thoughts tend to wander and become restless. For Christian meditation, we will use a scriptural passage or sacred word as our mantra. Examples of mantras or sacred words might include:
* Maranatha (an ancient Christian prayer word)
* Peace Be Still
* The Lord Is My Shepherd
Step Two : Find a Place to Meditate
The next step should be to find a place where you can meditate. Many people like to meditate outdoors where they can contemplate the works of God. This can include parks, beaches, or hillsides. It is important if you choose a place outdoors that you won’t be disturbed during your meditative practice. You can also choose to meditate inside of your own home. Choose a quiet room where outside noise or other members of your household won’t distract you.
Step Three: Preparing for Christian Meditation
You want to sit with your back straight and your eyes lightly closed. It’s important to have a straight back because breathing is a major part of your meditation practice. You may want to use a cushion or a straight back chair. Often it is also best to start by relaxing your body. Move your mind to focus on different parts of your body, starting with your toes and working upwards. In your mind, mentally “relax” each part of your body. Next, focus on your breathing. Simply observe your breaths as they come in and out of your body.
Step Four: Using Your Sacred Word
Using the sacred word that you have chosen, repeat it out loud or inside your mind. You will stay with the same mantra throughout your entire meditative practice. As you are meditating, other thoughts will come into your mind. This is completely natural. When these thoughts come into your mind, observe them, and then allow them to drift out of your consciousness. Simply return to your sacred word or scripture and continue to repeat it.
To start with, it is a good idea to meditate for only 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Each day extend your meditation time by a minute until you are meditating between 15 to 20 minutes a day. When you have finished your meditative practice allow yourself a couple of minutes to unwind before re-entering your day-to-day life.
Step Five: Keeping the Practice
It is recommended that you try to meditate at least once a day, preferably twice. Generally, it is best to practice meditation in the morning or in the evening. A morning meditation session can help focus your mind and prepare you for your day’s activities. It is more important to be consistent in your meditative practice than it is to meditate for a long time. A 10-minute meditation session once every morning will have a bigger impact on your life than meditating for an hour only once a week.
More Tips for Beginning Meditator’s
Feeling like a Christian meditation rookie? Well, in addition to being good for your body, meditation is an great way to relieve stress, find peace, and grow closer to God. But many of us don’t exactly have the patience of a saint, and if you’ve never meditated before, it can seem scary and hard to grasp. In our busy day-to-day lives, most of us don’t carve out a lot of time to sit in silence with our thoughts and with God. We have cell phones, we have family lives, and we have twenty-four hour TV, so we’re used to a lot of noise blaring at us constantly! We don’t know how to be quiet and focus on God, and if you get frustrated trying to sit quietly with the Lord, you’re not going to feel very close to Him. Failed meditation is worse than no meditation at all. So, if you find it hard to go to that quiet place where you can find calmness, here’s a great guide for cutting out all the mental noise so you can learn to meditate– and in the process, find peace, grow spiritually, and change your life for the better.
1. Set it in stone.
Like any other spiritual task (anything from going to church more often to memorizing Scripture), you have to know deep within your soul that you really want to achieve this. Is meditation something you’re trying on a whim, or is it something you admire and truly want to make a part of your daily life? If you chose the latter, commit to it. Decide that you are going to learn how to meditate, not that you are going to ‘attempt’ to learn.
2. Get rid of all the excuses and the distractions.
While you’re learning to meditate, make sure you pick a day and a time where there will not be a lot of external distractions. If you have kids, do it while they’re at school, or taking a nap. Make sure you have nowhere to be for a while– don’t try to squeeze this in for twenty minutes before you have to leave for a wedding! You want to make sure you have a good chunk of time to dedicate to strengthening your relationship with the Lord.
3. Get quiet and comfortable.
Shoo all pets from the room, turn off any electronics (it’s hard to talk to God when your phone’s buzzing!) and find a comfortable position. Find a nice place to sit, whether it’s in a chair, on the bed or on the floor, and rest your hands palms-down on your knees. No fidgeting with them! Press them flat against your legs and leave them there.
4. But don’t get so comfortable you could be mistaken for dead.
If you fall asleep during your meditation attempt, you got a little too comfy. When we say “get comfortable,” we mean find somewhere you can sit contentedly for a while, not go to sleep! You want to be relaxed, but alert and aware of the Lord’s presence. You’re not here to flop down and daydream.
5. Fix your posture and shut your eyes.
Shoulders relaxed, back straight. Don’t slouch! You’re sitting with God, after all. You don’t want to look like a slob.
6. Keep your breath even and easy.
Don’t rush or draw it out longer than is comfortable. Breathe through your nose mostly, and focus on the patch of skin above your upper lip. You should be able to feel the air passing over this strip of flesh. Focus in on that sensation and the way the air feels entering your lungs. Pay attention to the way you feel that moment. Feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and don’t let your mind wander to what you had for lunch.
7. Anchor your mind- select a Scripture, passage, or sacred word to serve as a stronghold.
Be sure to select something that is meaningful to you, and that is small enough for you to easily remember the whole thing! Contemplate the passage you chose, what it says about your relationship with God, and how it is relevant to your life. Find all the places in your mind where that passage seems to fit. The word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), so find the ways that it has come to life in your own experience.
8. Be patient.
Sometimes, meditation can be nearly impossible to achieve, especially if you’re new at it! It’s okay if it’s not easy right away. Your journey to developing a close relationship with God is about the long-term, not about the twenty minutes right before you you’re learning a new skill.
Remember: Start small and be gentle with yourself. Start with only about twenty minutes of meditation at a time so you don’t burn out. With our busy minds, it can be hard to just sit quietly with the Lord! You need to learn how to be in His presence without all the other noise. Understand that you’re learning something new. If you need to move a little bit, go ahead. Don’t spend twenty minutes trying to ignore your itchy knee. If you notice your attention wavering, don’t get upset. Just gently guide your mind back to where it should be. As you begin to feel more at peace sitting with the God you are growing closer to, you will find that meditation becomes easier and easier. Don’t force it. Allow the Lord to guide you to Him.
I am glad you are interested in incorporating meditation into your life as I believe it is one of the best decisions you can make regardless of your religious affiliation. That being said, there are many types of meditation that produce various types of results or outcomes. So number one, I would determine what you desire to gain from meditation. Is it peace of mind? Overcome negative thoughts? Draw closer to God? Even if I prescribed the same type of meditation for each of these, having an intention for your meditation is very important. In this way, you will know what you want to receive from meditation and over time, if you accomplished it.
Secondly, this will seem a little contrary to the first question, but I would tell you not to judge your meditation, meaning, don’t be in a big hurry to see results or stop too soon. Meditation is a process that is accumulative and works over time, just like taking your vitamins. Therefore, please commit to at least 8-weeks of regular practice before you start to evaluate if it’s working for you. You can’t expect to meditate once a week and see any real results.
Third, I believe it is good to take a course, join a group, or at least get a book (or ebook) on meditation instruction, techniques, and/or fundamentals. This will help you to avoid some of the pitfalls that can happen as you begin to meditate. For example, what would you do if you encounter fear or negative emotions during or after meditation. Many people think that just sitting quietly and focusing on your breath is meditating and although this may be an aspect of meditation, depending on the method you choose, there is much more to it. Knowing the fundamentals will assist you in getting the best results as well as helping you feel confident and knowing that you are meditating correctly.
Here are the basics of a simple meditation practice:
- Find a quiet location.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breath (your anchor).
- Whenever you catch your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath, or if doing a mindfulness meditation, just watch any thought or sensations that arise without attaching to them. Just notice them and let them dissolve or disappear.
- Start at 5 minutes and then increase up to 20 minutes each time.
- Repeat once or twice a day.
Also, another alternative I would recommend is to meditate using a guided meditation. During a guided meditation you just follow the narration and it takes all the guesswork out of it. Also, it may be easier to keep your mind from wandering so much, when doing guided meditations. This is helpful to reduce meditation frustration.
How Do I Know If I’m Meditating Right?
Typically I tell people that the only bad meditation is the one that you don’t do. You will find that each experience can be different. For example, sometimes when you meditate, your mind may be relatively still. Other times, your mind may be so distracted and preoccupied that you struggle through the entire process. Both situations are fine. It’s just the nature of meditation. A lot of it depends upon your mental and emotional state before you begin.
If you look at it as a discipline, a practice to help you detach from your mind and quiet your thoughts, you’re much less likely to judge each and every practice. In addition, the more you meditate, the easier it will get.
If you are new to meditation, it’s important that you learn some of the fundamentals before starting. This will help you to understand not only how to meditate, but answer such lingering questions.
Many people think that meditating is just sitting in a quiet place and closing their eyes. If that is all you know about meditation, you’re mind will drive you crazy and you will probably give up.
I have a meditation quick start guide on my website that you can download for free. Just visit: Christian Meditation- What Do You Need to Heal? – The Christian Meditator
Lastly, find a meditating technique you like and stick with it. Jumping from one technique to the next will slow down your progress. Think of meditation as training your mind to be more at peace and sometimes training takes time.
Don’t give up, the benefits are numerous.