(Disclaimer: Thoughts contained in this blog post are not the equivalent of professional advice, and readers must agree not to hold the author liable for any damages caused as a result of engaging in meditation, prayer or any other form of peaceful stillness. Please consult a mental health professional for advice specific to you. That being said, there are few negative side effects to peaceful stillness. Everything the author knows about meditation is garnered from her psychologist, books written by psychologists, personal experience and, most importantly, Wikipedia. Read at your own risk.)
When you hear the word “meditation,” you probably think of Eastern religion. While it’s true that the term “meditation” is more commonly used in such contexts, it is not, in itself, a term specific to any particular religion. In fact, “meditation” is derived from a Latin word meaning “to think, contemplate, devise, ponder.” In this context, meditation may refer to a broad range of quiet, contemplative practices. This includes Christian prayer.
So if your psychologist wants you to practice “meditation,” and you’re a little hesitant – don’t be. Call it something else if you’d like, but don’t rob yourself of this useful practice, without which prayer – I have found – can be rather difficult. If your mind is already swimming with thoughts, how easy will it be to hear the still, small voice of God?
As someone who’s easily overwhelmed, I decided to map out a weekly meditation plan for myself that focuses on a different Bible verse and a different aspect of meditation each week. Rather than keeping this to myself, I thought I’d share it for the benefit of those struggling with any degree of stress, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or really any form of mental – even physical – ailment.
Here’s my plan:
- Bible verse – “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
- Meditation-ish concept – Commit to “being still” for one minute every hour. Commit to “being still” for 15 minutes twice a day. Download this app if you’re interested in guided “stillness.”
- Why – I’m a borderline workaholic, not in the amount of hours I work but the intensity. I eat lunch at my desk and only get up to use the restroom or maybe go for a five minute walk if I’m feeling up to it. It’s not that my job is unusually stressful or my employer is unusually strict; I’m just a task-oriented person. Obviously, this is unhealthy. My job should not consume me. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24. God should be part of every aspect of my life through continuous prayer while working, as well as breaks specifically dedicated to talking to my Father. He deserves nothing less.
- Bible verse – “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
- Meditation-ish concept – Observe your thoughts and do not try to evaluate them or assign meaning to them. They are less important than you think. Don’t judge yourself for every random thought or it may become an obsession. Basically, the harder you try to not think about elephants, the more you’ll think about elephants.
- Why – My brain never shuts off. Sometimes, I’m surprised at the weird, random thoughts that pop into my mind. Other times, I’m unastonished to find my thoughts grasping at that which I will never fully understand. All the while, I’m judging myself for being weird. If I take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, then my thoughts are no longer my burden to bear for Jesus has already died for each and every thought I have had and will have. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Stay tuned for several more weeks for a total of 8 Christian meditation ideas. Along the way, I’ll be tweeting about my experience using the hashtag, #BeStillChallenge. I encourage you to join me and share your experience as well. Week 1 begins for me on Sunday, May 8th.