Up until recently I’ve written off meditation as something New Agey– something slightly hokey, that my philosophy prof in university would have called “wooly.” Something not easily defined, useless fluff that people partake in to feel better about themselves.
After reading a book written by a woman I admire, and then reading another book that asked the reader to try meditation, even if they felt a little silly, I can now say that meditation is a very useful tool.
We live in a society where it’s go,go,go; high stress, high paced. It’s nice to take a few moments out of your day to simply sit still, relax, clear your mind, and give yourself a break– whether it’s a spiritual experience or not will undoubtedly be based in your belief system. For me it’s an excellent opportunity to spend some time in quiet, and then follow that up in a time talking with God.
Most people I’ve talked to who seem to have difficulties with meditation cite that they can’t keep thoughts out of their head or that they can’t meditate for very long. One thing I’d like to point out is that at the beginning if you can meditate for two minutes you haven’t failed, but succeeded! Longer meditations will come with more practice. And if there’s a thought that pops into your head, gently push it away or brush it aside. Recognize that the thought itself isn’t bad, just inappropriately timed. Return to that thought once your meditation is over. Combine that with a focus on breathing. Breathing is a great thing to focus on when trying to clear your head. It is the very thing that keeps all of the earth alive– it’s very personal, yet completely communal. Recognize your breathing, it’s depth and pace. Don’t try to change it, simply focus on it for a few moments as your mind begins to empty of the worries of the day.
For me, the truly “wooly” part was what comes next. I breath in the good, and breath out the bad. I breath in God’s peace and breath out anger. I breath in God’s love and breath out malice and judgment. I breath in patience, and breath out hastiness. I breath in joy and breath out sadness. It seems a bit odd, but if in your meditation you can picture these things being taken from you– God taking them from you, similar to his forgiving you of sins through Christ, then it seems much less wooly.
It took me a bit to get beyond myself and my preconceived notions of meditation, but now, it is a holy space– a moment in my day for relaxation, reflection, and prayer. And it absolutely makes a difference.