Meditation is the practice of getting still and reaching a heightened level of awareness, calm and peace. It allows you to calm down your racing mind, being aware of your thoughts but not being consumed by them. This will help you to focus on your priorities and you much needed space to quiet your mind and find margin in your life.
Meditation is practiced by people from all walks of life. It doesn’t necessarily have a religious or spiritual meaning unless you intend it to. Many people, including people new in recovery and agnostics, find meditation to be beneficial and use it when they need serenity.
Here’s a simple guide to getting started with meditation.
What is Guided Meditation?
This is a form of meditation where a spiritual teacher or even mentor encourages you to visualize a particular outcome. One example might be a football coach leading his players through a visualization where the team can imagine winning the game.
Guided meditation can allow you to regain a sense of control in the face of setbacks. During an interview with Forbes, Michael Phelps shared that his goggles filled with water during the Olympic race. Other swimmers may have panicked, but Michael didn’t. He’d spent so many hours visualizing a successful outcome that he knew just what to do. He went on to complete that race, won the gold medal and broke the existing world record.
I highly recommend the Calm app. I use it daily to help calm down my racing thoughts and destress. It has sleep stories, calming meditations, soundscapes and more.
What are Mantras?
Mantras are words repeated to aid concentration in meditation. This can help some people to focus better during their meditation sessions. The mantra can be any phrase, affirmation or scripture one that you choose. Many people find it helpful to create a mantra about an area of their lives that they’re seeking to improve.
For example, if you’re struggling with food issues, your mantra might be, “I choose to fill my body with nutritious foods.” Here’s a few health related mantras:
- Know your limitations and then defy them
- Every journey begins with a single step (Maya Angelou)
- If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.
- Keep moving forward.
- Strive for progress, not perfection.
During meditation, say the mantra to yourself out loud. If you find your mind drifting or you’re worrying about something, relax and keep repeating your mantra. It will get easier after a few sessions to stay on track.
Mindfulness as Meditation
Another form of meditation is mindfulness. It’s simply the practice of staying in the moment without fear or judgement. Rather, you become an observer of your inner self and your reactions to what’s going on around you.
As part of your mindfulness practice, you can sit or lie comfortably and listen to your thoughts. The key is not to react to what you’re thinking. For example, you think about cookies in the kitchen but then remember you’re supposed to be on a diet. You may be feeling guilt and shame.
But when you’re practicing mindfulness, instead of beating yourself up you might say “I release this guilt and shame and open myself to joy and peace.” The more you practice mindfulness, the more you’ll become aware of how your thoughts are shaping your life.
There are many styles of meditation. Don’t feel bad if you try one method and don’t enjoy it. You may have to try a few different ones until you find the style that works best for you.
Simple Meditation for Beginners
- Sit or lie comfortably. A meditation chair or cushion may help you to focus.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe naturally. Observe your breath without trying to control it.
- Instrumental background music may also be helpful.
What is Christian Meditation?
Over the years I’ve heard a lot of negative things about Christian meditation, in particular, that if I were to empty my mind that it would invite demonic influence. Having practiced meditation for several years now, this is far from the truth. While we should always be mindful and discerning about the source of our meditation practices, meditation is simply a mind, body and spirit practice that can help to reduce stress, boost overall wellbeing and is just downright relaxing.
Science certainly supports meditation as being healthy.
- Meditation has been shown scientifically to reduce high blood pressure, pain, symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and acute respiratory illnesses.
- Meditation may change the brain physically, allowing certain health problems to reverse or slow down.
- “The more time spent on meditation, the greater the decrease in scores on their measure of binge-eating, depression, and anxiety”.
- “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2)
- “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)
- “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
- “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:34)
- “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
Examples of mantras for Christians might be the Jesus prayer, meditation on a spiritual phrase such as Abba or Maranatha. You can also break the Lord’s prayer into short parts and meditate on one part at a time. I love to follow Caroline Williams for a wonderful combination of Christian yoga and meditation.
Meditation is a wonderful way for anyone to strength mind, body and spirit. It’s been an indispensable tool for me on my recovery journey and managing the stresses of special needs parenting and chronic illness. It has served as a wonderful tool to ground me and feel closer to God.