Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meditation - A part of Ancient Christian Tradition

Since the Great Enlightenment in the 18th century, Western culture has continually tossed away emotional and spiritual expression for logic and science.  This cultural shift led us to forget, and in some places, reject large parts of of our spiritual heritage.  This is why meditation and other Eastern practices seem new to us -- our foreparents didn't pass down our own heritage of meditation and spiritual connection.

Prayer is Talking to God - sharing your fears, hopes & dreams

Meditation is Listening to God -
God's fears, hopes and dreams for you and the world

Contemplation is taking a phrase or piece of scripture and going over it in your mind letting it sink into your heart

How to Meditate

Create "Holy Space", a quiet comfortable spot away from the phone and other distractions.  If you are a beginner then having a picture, candle or incense to look at may be helpful.  Having a comfortable chair or cushion to sit on is important too.  If you have a timer, set it in the other room so you aren't tempted to look at it, but can hear it when it dings.  5 minutes is a good starting time.

Get comfortable, but not lounging-back straight and feet flat on the floor or folded.  Stretch your arms up and then let them rest lightly on your knees.

Let your eyes and face relax and your gaze be soft, not really looking but resting on your candle or other focal point.

Clear your mind.  Think of your mind as the surface of the lake.  Any ideas that pop up are leaves floating on the surface that you gently push away.  Focus on your breathing, in and out in deep long breaths.  Picture light from heaven shining down onto the top of your head, into your body, down into your heart and lungs, your breath is moving that light throughout your body.  Into every finger, into every toe.  Feel the warmth of God's light and the warmth of God's love for you.
Keep breathing, keep picturing that light, keep feeling warmth in your head, heart and body.

You are meditating!

If, after you meditate, thoughts/memories/feelings surface that trouble you, this is the Holy Spirit helping you work through things you have suppressed.  Please call your pastor!
Talk about those things, and keep meditating.  God the Great Physician is working on your heart and mind to help you get rid of things you don't need.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Resolve for Spiritual Health

Most of us think of New Year's resolutions for physical health:  lose weight, eat better, move more, drink water etc.

Spiritual health is just as important as physical health.  In fact they are interconnected.  Our physical bodies and spiritual bodies are a part of each other.  We can exercise  and eat right but if we don't take care of our spirit/soul then we are still missing a piece of optimum health.

So what does spiritual health look like?  This is a good question.  I googled spiritual health and came up with 99% pictures of people doing yoga.  And I have to laugh because yoga is good, I love it, but its not the only way to be spiritually healthy.  Its just the biggest fad, and it new to our culture so it is easy to point out.  Prayer, compared to yoga, seems boring.  Worship, compared to yoga, is so unhip.
hmmmmmm.    So many seekers try yoga and drift to Buddism, without trying some of the spiritual practices of Christian tradition.

Over the past 2,000 years Christianity has produced many spiritual masters such as Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Benedict, more recently there have been CS Lewis, Thomas Merton, and Barbara Brown Taylor.   These are only a few.  They have produced masses of books, poems, songs, prayers, meditations and philosophies for us to learn about spiritual health.   Pick a person, read about them and their spiritual practices.  And then practice.

The most important thing about spiritual health, like physical health, is not what you know  but whether you practice.  Practice prayer.  No one is perfect in prayer.  We practice it.  Practice meditation.  Practice worship.  Practice giving your worries and struggles to God.  Practice your faith.

Resolve for spiritual health in 2015 by resolving to practice a way to draw nearer to God and more in balance with body-mind-spirit.

Hear an audio introduction to Christian Meditation here by Laurence Freeman, an Benedictine monk who has made his life practice to teach meditation.