“The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.

Our task must be to free ourselves; by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

 Albert Einstein, 1954

Meditation can move us closer to promoting compassion within ourselves and those that we touch.

Through meditation we become more responsible.  This responsibility lies in the balance we discover by unlocking the synergy of our mind….. our heart….. and our inner spirit. We propose that through a continued and ongoing dedication to a personal meditation practice, great strides are possible for ourselves, our relationships, our family, and our society.  It allows us to subdue the self.  It allows us to “just let go”.  In doing so, a remarkable thing happens.  We do not cease to be.  We do not lose control.  We do not lose self; instead we liberate it.  We find a beautiful place of peace, harmony, and balance.  We now frame the self within a much purer form of loving and nurturing energy.  We begin to see a clearer picture of the world and our place in it.  We learn the art of alchemy in converting passion into compassion.  Our decision making process then incorporates a powerful and far reaching wisdom.  We are in tune within a rhythm of life, our surroundings, and those we touch.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

 Dalai Lama

A great soul once responded when asked the question, “What is the most important time?” 

The response went somewhat as follows, “The most important time is this present moment.  It is the only time that we will ever have control of.  It is what we do in this present moment that determines the direction of our lives.”

We can use this time wisely and responsibly or we can diminish its value.  Remember this; the value of this present moment is colored by our deepest feelings and subsequent thoughts and desires.  Any decision in life will have their imprint.

 

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon

 

Ask yourself these questions:

Who am I?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?

Who am I?  Where am I going?  How will I get there?

These very important questions take on a very different response when we open our heart to discover its secrets.  Through the act of quieting the mind, we allow the content resting deep within the heart to awaken.  When we contemplate our awareness and again ask these same questions after cultivating the heart, our responses are altered and given a much deeper meaning and significance.

 


 

 

 “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

Lao Tzu

 A “loving kindness” meditation

After a long day, including some difficult personal encounters we tend to build stress within our bodies and our mind.  Our mind keeps going over the situations reviewing the negative pictures and the emotions attached.

Take the time to brew yourself a cup of tea, preferably green or herbal, sit down in a comfortable and quiet setting, alone by yourself.   

Sip your tea and inhale, filling the lungs while lowering the diaphragm with breath, enjoying the beverage.  Review the day, the good and the bad.  Continue enjoying the tea and the review.  After a few minutes…..close the eyelids…..

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “listen” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “observe” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “value” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “embrace” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the inhale…..say the word “I”….. then say the word “love” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

“I…….Listen”

“I…….Observe”

“I…….Value”

“I…….Embrace”

“I…….Love

Repeat the above, quietly feeling the impression of each word, surrendering to the emotional impact of each word and each breath.

After a few rounds, just say the word, “I” on the inhale and “love” on the exhale, surrendering to the ebb and flow of the breath.  Start to let the breath find its own rhythm without any personal effort.  Allow the breath to breathe you.  Surrender to its mastery of the moment itself.  Now is when the meditation begins.  Now is when we listen to the breath…..we listen to the awakened heart.  Do not be concerned when you find the mind begin to wander.  This is normal.  It’s what the mind does.  Gently bring the attention of the mind back to the breath, back to the mantra.  The mind is like a young excited child.  Be loving, kind, and gentle with it.  The words on the inhale and the exhale help to still and calm our mind.  The relationship between our awareness and our breath is our goal.  This relationship unlocks the secrets of our heart.  It is only when we subdue the mind can we discover what the heart has to say.  It is as if the mind is a like a pond that has stones cast into it relentlessly.  It is only when the stones are stopped that the surface of the pond finds its calm.  It is then that we can see the beauty hidden beneath its surface.  The breath will guide us.  The heart beckons us upon our journey.  We just need to listen, then observe, then value, and finally surrender and embrace what we find.  In this moment we are open to the very magic of the heart.  Rediscover, in the solitude of your being, the very private and special tenderness that goes before no other soul.  Let this place and this moment embrace you with its wonder.  Let the Love and Grace found within your being expand to every cell, every breath, and every moment.  Breathe Love – Be Love.   Let it last as long as you will.

Upon completion of this meditation, revisit the problems of the day with this affirmation:  “I let go….. I listen….. I love….. I forgive…..  My heart – My love, extends to all that I meet in loving kindness.” 

 What do we hear when opening our heart?

…..Listen to the silence.

What do we see when opening our heart?

…..Observe the stillness. 

What do we find when opening our heart?

…..Value the fullness of this moment.

What do we do when opening our heart?

…..Embrace this moment with the compassion of loving kindness.

Listen to the silence of a loving heart, observe the stillness of a loving heart, value the fullness of a loving heart, and then, embrace this special moment in time with compassionate courage, generosity, and humility born from loving kindness.

 I listen, I observe, I value, I embrace…….I am…….I love…….In thee, I am…….In thee, I love.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

The act of meditation has not the goal of gaining anything.  The purpose of meditation is to surrender, to release, to “let go”; to just listen and observe.  We then value and embrace what remains.

What do we find when we still our mind?

…..Love

 

“Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love.”

Thomas Merton

When do you recall ever having taken the time to explore the depths of your own heart?

Will the discovery of the secrets lying dormant within your heart alter the direction of your life’s journey?  Have you ever wondered which fork in the road to take?  Have you done all the necessary preparation to make the choice valid?

May we extend this invitation to self examination.  

We are all given gifts at birth.  Discover them for yourself and their ultimate power for personal transformation.  Explore how their cultivation can add meaning to your life and the lives of those you touch.

“I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks.  God is the friend of silence–we need to listen to God because it is not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters.”

Mother Teresa


 

Taoist Meditation by thewayofmeditation.com.au

The Full Power Of Taoist Meditation And How To Do It

 

Taoist Meditation

Origin & Meaning
Taoism (Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy and religion, dating back to Lao Tzu (or Laozi). It emphasizes living in harmony with Nature, or Tao, and it’s main text is the Tao Te Ching, dating back to 6th century B.C. Later on some lineages of Taoism were also influenced by Buddhist meditation practices brought from India, especially on the 8th century C.E..

The chief characteristic of this type of meditation is the generation, transformation, and circulation of inner energy. The purpose is to quieten the body and mind, unify body and spirit, find inner peace, and harmonize with the Tao. Some styles of Taoist Meditation are specifically focused on improving health and giving longevity.

How to do it

There are several different types of Taoist meditation, and they are sometimes classified in three: “insight”, “concentrative”, and “visualization”. Here is a brief overview:

  • Emptiness meditation — to sit quietly and empty oneself of all mental images (thoughts, feelings, and so on), to “forget about everything”, in order to experience inner quiet and emptiness. In this state, vital force and “spirit” is collected and replenished. This is similar to the Confucius discipline of “heart-mind fasting”, and it is regarded as “the natural way”. One simply allows all thoughts and sensations arise and fall by themselves, without engaging with or “following” any of them. If this is found to be too hard and “uninteresting”, the student is instructed with other types of meditation, such as visualization and Qigong
  • Breathing meditation (Zhuanqi) — to focus on the breath, or “unite mind and qi”. The instruction is “focus your vital breath until it is supremely soft”. Sometimes this is done by simply quietly observing the breath (similar to Mindfulness Meditation in Buddhism); in other traditions it is by following certain patterns of exhalation and inhalation, so that one becomes directly aware of the “dynamisms of Heaven and Earth” through ascending and descending breath (a type of Qigong, similar to Pranayama in Yoga).
  • Neiguan (“inner observation; inner vision”) — visualizing inside one’s body and mind, including the organs, “inner deities”, qi (vital force) movements, and thought processes. It’s a process of acquainting oneself with the wisdom of nature in your body. There are particular instructions for following this practice, and a good book or a teacher is required.

These meditations are done seated cross-legged on the floor, with spine erect. The eyes are kept half-closed and fixed on the point of the nose.
Master Liu Sichuan emphasises that, although not easy, ideally one should practice by “joining the breath and the mind together”; for those that find this too hard, he would recommend focusing on the lower abdomen (dantian).

People that are more connected with the body and nature may like to try Taoist meditation, and enjoy learning a bit about the philosophy behind it. Or if you are into martial arts or Tai Chi, this might be of your interest. However, Taoist centers and teachers are not as easy to find as Buddhist and Yoga ones, so it might be a challenge to follow through.

Qigong (Chi kung)

Origin & Meaning

Qigong (also spelled chi kung, or chi gung) is a Chinese word that means “life energy cultivation”, and is a body-mind exercise for health, meditation, and martial arts training. It typically involves slow body movement, inner focus, and regulated breathing. Traditionally it was practiced and taught in secrecy in the Chinese Buddhist, Taoist and Confucianist traditions. In the 20th century, Qigong movement has incorporated and popularized Daoist meditation, and “mainly employs concentrative exercises but also favors the circulation of energy in an inner-alchemical mode” (Kohn 2008a:120).

For a deep study on Qigong history, theory, and philosophy, I recommend The Root of Chinese Qigong.

Daoist practices may also employ Qigong, but since Qigong is also applied in other Chinese philosophies, I decided to treat it as a separate subject.

How to do it

There are thousands of different Qigong exercises cataloged, involving over 80 different types of breathing. Some are specific to martial arts (to energize and strengthen the body); others are for health (to nourish body functions or cure diseases); and others for meditation and spiritual cultivation. Qigong can be practiced in a static position (seated or standing), or through a dynamic set of movements – which is what you typically see in YouTube videos and on DVDs. The exercises that are done as a meditation, however, are normally done sitting down, and without movement.

To understand more about Qigong and learn how to do it, I’d recommend getting a book or DVD set from Dr. Yang Jwing Ming, such as this one. But here goes an introductory overview of the practice of seated Qigong meditation:

  • Sit in a comfortable position. Make sure your body is balanced and centered.
  • Relax your whole body – muscles, nerves, and internal organs
  • Regulate your breathing, making it deep, long, and soft.
  • Calm your mind
  • Place all your attention in the “lower dantien”, which is the center of gravity of the body, two inches below the navel. This will help accumulate and root the qi (vital energy). Where your mind and intention is, there will be your qi. So, by focusing on the dantien, you are gathering energy in this natural reservoir.
  • Feel the qi circulating freely through your body.

Other famous Qigong exercises are:

  • Small Circulation (also called “microcosmic circulation”)
  • Embryonic Breathing
  • Eight Pieces of Brocade (see this book excerpt  & Wikipedia article)
  • Muscle Tendon Changing (or “Yi Jin Jing”, taught by Bodhidharma)

The first two are seated meditation, while the latter two are dynamic Qigong, integrating body stretches.

Learn more:

Is it for me?

Qigong meditation may be more attractive to people that like to integrate a more active body and energy work into the practice. If seated meditation is unbearable for you, and you prefer something a bit more active, try some of the more dynamic forms of Qigong. Again, there are several styles of Qigong out there, and you may need to try with different teachers or DVDs to find the one that suits you. Some people have a taste of dynamic Qigong through the practice of Tai Chi.

Written by Giovanni Dienstmann 

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6 Ways You Can Use Meditation To Balance Your Hormones by Lynne Goldberg

 

6 Ways You Can Use Meditation To Balance Your Hormones Hero Image

Have you tried standing on a slackline? It takes just the right amount of micro-movements to keep you from falling over.

If your leg is too high, you may need to balance it with your arm, and each body movement has a corresponding action that keeps you balanced and upright.

 

Our bodies are kind of like that, too. Our cells are constantly regenerating, and the systems in our body are continually adapting to the surrounding circumstances. Mother Nature wisely designed our bodies to strive for balance at all times and to provide us with all the energy, vitality, and stamina we need.

For example, think of what happens when you go into a sauna. Our natural cooling system (sweating) kicks in to lower the body’s temperature and keep it cool. If it didn’t, we would quickly pass out.

But what happens when our systems get out of whack? What happens when we’ve been putting in too many long at the office or grabbing too many meals on the run?

 

Well, we get stressed! And over time, this chronic stress wreaks havoc on our health—especially when it comes to our hormones.

 

Here are six ways meditation can help balance your hormones and keep you feeling and operating at your optimal level:

1. Meditation keeps cortisol and adrenaline in check.

Thousands of years ago, if we were being chased by a saber-toothed tiger, our bodies would release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to give us an extra dose of strength and speed. This fight-or-flight reaction is hard-wired into our bodies so that we can defend ourselves or get away from danger. Once the danger has passed, our levels return to normal.

But today, this same hormonal reaction can be triggered by several different (and less severe) circumstances, such as a car alarm, our boss dropping a last-minute assignment on our desk, or screaming kids in the kitchen.

There may not be any man-eating beasts in the area, but there are countless situations in today’s world that are going to keep you stimulated and dump those stress hormones into your system.

When this happens, adrenaline works to increase your heart rate and blood pressure, while cortisol increases the sugar in your bloodstream, lowers your immune system, and suppresses your digestion. This all stresses your body out and undermines your health.

But when you meditate, you lower cortisol and adrenaline levels in your body and normalize your blood pressure and your heart rate. It’s like the antidote to the stresses of the modern world!

2. Meditation improves your mood with serotonin and oxytocin.

Meditation releases those “feel good” hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin is responsible for maintaining mood balance and is commonly used in many of the antidepressants available. But our bodies actually manufacture this hormone on their own when we meditate.

Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, increases our bonding, romantic attachments, and levels of empathy. Therefore, meditation allows you to feel more love and relate better to the people in your life!

3. Meditation increases your melatonin levels, helping you sleep better.

Melatonin is a hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycles, and your body has its own internal clock that controls how much is produced.

When we are stressed out, our melatonin levels decrease. This is why it’s harder to sleep when we’re stressed out. Fortunately, we can increase our melatonin production with meditation and get that badly needed shut-eye.

4. Meditation improves focus and concentration by increasing dopamine.

Dopamine is a hormone that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It acts like an information filter that can help our brains get ready for peak performance. Dopamine also improves our memory, our attention, and our ability to solve problems—all pretty important stuff!

If you want to improve this area of your life, you can help your body increase its dopamine levels by meditating regularly.

5. Meditation keeps you young by increasing DHEA and insulinlike growth factor.

Whoa, that’s a mouthful! Simply put, these hormones play an important role in stress and aging, and—you guessed it—when we get stressed out, they decrease.

Not only can these hormones help reduce inflammation and restore the body, but they also help reduce cellular aging. When we meditate, we release hormones that help us counter the effects of stress and help you reduce your risk of early mortality.

6. Meditation balances your sex hormones.

Ever notice how your libido becomes nonexistent when you are stressed out? The last thing on your mind is an intimate evening for two. That’s because your body thinks it’s in danger (remember that saber-toothed tiger?) and has shifted from procreation to survival mode. It revs up the cortisol and changes your sex hormone production. Meditation lowers your cortisol levels and gets you back in the mood!

 

Lynne Goldberg 

No stranger to stress, Lynne fell in love with meditation after a series of life’s crippling blows. Meditation became her life support and eventually her way of life. Feeling an overwhelming urge to offer this haven of peace and contentment to as many people as possible, she became a certified meditation coach and co-founded the OMG. I Can Meditate! app, a user friendly, lifestyle app that offers simple, guided meditations that focus on different aspects of life, whether it be with respect to weight loss, anxiety, relationships and more. For more information on Lynne, please visit www.omgmeditate.com and check out OMG. I Can Meditate! on the app store to learn simple mindfulness and meditation techniques to help you reduce stress and anxiety, sleep better, sharpen your mind and more.

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What Do Gial Cells Do? by Andrew Koob

The Root of Thought: What Do Glial Cells Do?

Nearly 90 percent of the brain is composed of glial cells, not neurons. Andrew Koob argues that these overlooked cells just might be the source of the imagination.

 

Andrew Koob received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Purdue University in 2005, and has held research positions at Dartmouth College, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Munich, Germany. He’s also the author of The Root of Thought, which explores the purpose and function of glial cells, the most abundant cell type in the brain. Mind Matters editor Jonah Lehrer chats with Koob about why glia have been overlooked for centuries, and how new experiments with glial cells shed light on some of the most mysterious aspects of the mind.

LEHRER: Your new book, The Root of Thought, is all about the power of glial cells, which actually make up nearly 90 percent of cells in the brain. What do glial cells do? And why do we have so many inside our head?

KOOB: Originally, scientists didn’t think they did anything.  Until the last 20 years, brain scientists believed neurons communicated to each other, represented our thoughts, and that glia were kind of like stucco and mortar holding the house together.  They were considered simple insulators for neuron communication.  There are a few types of glial cells, but recently scientists have begun to focus on a particular type of glial cell called the ‘astrocyte,’ as they are abundant in the cortex. Interestingly, as you go up the evolutionary ladder, astrocytes in the cortex increase in size and number, with humans having the most astrocytes and also the biggest.  Scientists have also discovered that astrocytes communicate to themselves in the cortex and are also capable of sending information to neurons. Finally, astrocytes are also the adult stem cell in the brain and control blood flow to regions of brain activity. Because of all these important properties, and since the cortex is believed responsible for higher thought, scientists have started to realize that astrocytes must contribute to thought. 

LEHRER: Why have glia been neglected for so long?

KOOB: To understand this, you have to take a tour of the history of brain science. Glia were mainly a sidebar for 200 years in the struggle over the idea of the neuron.  A few highlights were: In the late 18th century, scientists discovered the electrical properties of the neuron in the spine of frogs. Neurons have long tethers that are easy to study called ‘axons’ that extend from the cell body from the brain into the spine and the spine out to the limbs and body. Similarly, neurons in the senses were linked to the neurons in the brain. This is where the notion of neurons as the base of our thoughts took root. In the mid-19th century, glia were just being discovered, and researchers figured the glial cells simply held the neurons together (glia is greek for glue).  What I find sort of hilarious is that scientists stumbled upon a very numerous cell in the brain, an organ responsible for our thoughts and personality, but they were so focused on neurons that they concluded the new cell was worthless. In the late 19th century a staining method was developed to look at cells more effectively in the brain.  A brilliant researcher from Spain, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, took it upon himself to study the brain from the perspective of neurons. He meticulously mapped out a scheme for how they process information and are connected, which led to “The Neuron Doctrine.”  (“The Neuron Doctrine” is a belief that neurons are responsible for our thoughts.)  However, Cajal seemed inconvenienced by glial cells. They were very numerous and obviously hanging out all over the cortex.  Meanwhile, his brother Pedro, who was also a scientist, developed the theory that glial cells were ‘support cells’ that insulated neuron electrical properties.  Cajal decided to back his brother’s theory.  And since 1906 when he won the nobel prize, this has been the dogma.

LEHRER: Could you describe some of the early experiments that first led scientists to reconsider the role of glial cells?

KOOB: Glial experiments didn’t get going until the 1960s.  All scientists knew about glia was that if you put neurons in petri dish, you had to have glia, or neurons would die. Then, Stephen W. Kuffler at Harvard, for reasons unknown, decided to test Pedro’s accepted theory of insulation.  This was around same time that cell counts in the brain revealed glial cells to be nearly 90% of the brain (this is where the neuron based idea that we only use 10% of our brain comes from).  Kuffler is notable because he ironically established the Harvard ‘neuro’ biology department while he was performing these groundbreaking glial experiments. Anyway, Kuffler took astrocytes from the leech and mud puppy and added potassium, something that is known to flow out of neurons after they are stimulated. He thought this would confirm Pedro’s theory that glial cells were insulators. What he found instead was that the electrical potential of glial cells responded to potassium. Kuffler and colleagues found that astrocytes exhibited an electrical potential, much like neurons. They also discovered in the frog and the leech that astrocytes were influenced by neuronal ion exchange, a process long held to be the chemical counterpart to thought. Since then many researchers have completed experiments on the communicatory ability of glial cells with neurons, including in the late 80s and early 90s when it was discovered glial cells respond to and release ‘neuro’ transmitters.

LEHRER: Why are calcium waves important?  

KOOB: In short, calcium waves are how astrocytes communicate to themselves. Astrocytes have hundreds of ‘endfeet’ spreading out from their body. They look like mini octopi, and they link these endfeet with blood vessels, other astrocytes and neuronal synapses. Calcium is released from internal stores in astrocytes as they are stimulated, then calcium travels through their endfeet to other astrocytes. The term ‘calcium waves’ describes the calcium release and exchange between astrocytes and between astrocytes and neurons.  Scientists at Yale, most notably Ann H. Cornell-Bell and Steven Finkbeiner, have shown that calcium waves can spread from the point of stimulation of one astrocyte to all other astrocytes in an area hundreds of times the size of the original astrocyte. Furthermore, calcium waves can also cause neurons to fire.  And calcium waves in the cortex are leading scientists to infer that this style of communication may be conducive to the processing of certain thoughts. If that isn’t convincing, it was recently shown that a molecule that stimulates the same receptors as THC can ignite astrocyte calcium release. 

LEHRER: You suggest that glia and their calcium waves might play a role in creativity. Could you explain?

KOOB: This idea stems from dreams, sensory deprivation and day dreaming. Without input from our senses through neurons, how is it that we have such vivid thoughts?  How is it that when we are deep in thought we seemingly shut off everything in the environment around us?  In this theory, neurons are tied to our muscular action and external senses. We know astrocytes monitor neurons for this information. Similarly, they can induce neurons to fire. Therefore, astrocytes modulate neuron behavior. This could mean that calcium waves in astrocytes are our thinking mind. Neuronal activity without astrocyte processing is a simple reflex; anything more complicated might require astrocyte processing. The fact that humans have the most abundant and largest astrocytes of any animal and we are capable of creativity and imagination also lends credence to this speculation.

Calcium is also released randomly and without stimulation from astrocytes’ internal stores in small bursts called ‘puffs.’  These random puffs can lead to waves.  It is possible that the seemingly random thoughts during dreams and sensory deprivation experience could be calcium puffs becoming waves in our astrocytes. Basically, it is obvious that astrocytes are involved in brain processing in the cortex, but the main questions are, do our thoughts and imagination stem from astrocytes working together with neurons, or are our thoughts and imagination solely the domain of astrocytes?  Maybe the role of neurons is to support astrocytes.

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What is Meditation by Cecil Maranville

 

Meditation can sound like a mysterious religious practice. But is this what the Bible means? What is meditation in the Bible? How are we to meditate?

 

In our fast-paced society, we often find ourselves rushing through our daily routine, rarely stopping to think. Briefly put, meditation is stopping to think!

It is concentrated thinking about a particular subject for a period of time. Life’s demands typically force us to do more than one thing at a time, to multitask. It’s great if you can juggle several thoughts at the same time. But you can’t get the most out of your reasoning power, your creative ability—or your ability to relax—if you never concentrate deeply on just one topic.

Meditating for spiritual purposes requires us to put other thoughts aside for a while and to focus on one important subject.

Meditation in the Bible

The Bible speaks of meditation in numerous references, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

Psalm 63 is one example. This song or prayer was written by David before he became king of Judah when he had to “go underground” for a while to avoid being assassinated. It was obviously a highly stressful time in his life. He had been falsely accused of treason. In verse 6 David speaks of meditating during sleepless nights, as he thought deeply about how God always provides for those who search Him out. Those meditations brought back memories of how God rescued David previously, and they cheered him up.

The type of meditation spoken of in the Bible isn’t the repeated chanting of a mystical sound or phrase. There is nothing mysterious about it. It means using your mind in an effective manner to think intensely on a single subject that relates to God.

Meditation enriches prayer and Bible study

Pondering deeply on something that concerns you naturally might stir you to pray about it. Prayer is talking to God. We “listen” to Him through studying His Word. So, prayer and Bible study are the two necessary elements of communicating with God. Meditation enriches both sides of this relational communication with our Heavenly Father. 

For example, David wrote in Psalm 64, “Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation; preserve my life from fear of the enemy” (verse 1). David was thinking deeply about the danger he faced, and his meditation inspired him to pray to God about protection—just as we would do in a similar circumstance.

In the famous 119th Psalm, the psalmist wrote of meditating in a different way on a sleepless night: “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” (verse 148). When facing some demanding situation, this writer spent time thinking deeply about God’s Word. He could have been looking for direction on how to handle what he was facing, or he might have been simply seeking comfort from whatever the stress of the moment was.

The Bible is a guide for life, for everything and anything that life throws at us. You might be familiar with this verse, which verifies this claim: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The counsel that the Bible has to offer is often in condensed form. To derive the full benefit of its wisdom, a person has to deliberate, to ponder its meaning and the way to apply it personally.

In conjunction with prayer and the help of God’s Spirit, a believer can reinforce godly conduct by picturing himself saying or doing the right thing. That is another way to use meditation.The psalmist committed himself to doing this, so that he would discover everything God’s words had stored within them: “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways” (Psalm 119:15).

Things to think about

It is commonly known that directing your thinking on a specific behavior can change your habits. For example, basketball players who repeatedly picture making a play or a shot successfully can improve their game significantly. Many people wrestle with sinful habits that they need to replace with behavior that is acceptable to God. In conjunction with prayer and the help of God’s Spirit, a believer can reinforce godly conduct by picturing himself saying or doing the right thing. That is another way to use meditation.

The apostle Paul wrote: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Thinking about the meaning, the value and the application of these guideposts for life, as well as picturing yourself putting them into practice, will help you mature spiritually.

Lastly, concentrating your mind on a single spiritual value or a beautiful aspect of creation will help free your mind and body of stress. Genesis 24:63 tells of Isaac, at that time a 40-year-old man with weighty business responsibilities—and courtship—on his mind, going “out to meditate in the field in the evening.” Notice the setting, for it helps to have an environment conducive to meditation. A park, a hiking trail, a garden or a place with a view of the sunrise or sunset might be where you can meditate easily. Or, as mentioned above about David, maybe the quiet of your bed late at night would be a haven for you. Undoubtedly, you will find more than one place that lends itself to meditation if you look for it.

So, what is meditation? Meditation for spiritual reasons is a healthy and necessary practice with many benefits when practiced as taught in the Bible.

by Cecil Maranville

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