Contemplative Corner – “The Spiritual Discipline of Meditation”

Meditation is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey God’s word. To practice meditation  is to seek to know God more deeply and experience God’s deep, patient and abiding love for us. In meditation we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary within our hearts. There our lives are slowly transformed because of our encounter with the living God. We leave our chaotic, noisy, frenzied world behind and enter the inner world of contemplative silence. Our behavior is changed through obedience and repentance, and we are set free to live a life of joy while serving God and others. Is it not amazing that the God of the universe, creator of all things, wants to commune with us and desires a personal relationship with us?

The biblical foundation for meditation is found in the life of Christ. He modeled for us the reality of entering an abiding and intimate relationship with God by listening and obeying. It is in meditation that we allow ourselves to sink into the depths of Jesus Christ and through that posture become comfortable in a familiar friendship with Jesus as we walk and talk with him in daily life. Such inward fellowship transforms our inner personality so that we want to seek the way of Christ and let go of everything that does not align with it. As we yearn to be more Christlike, we will put our own selfish desires and aspirations aside to conform to a life of love and service to God.

Thomas Merton writes, “Meditation is really very simple and there is not much need for elaborate techniques to teach us about it.” With practice we find communing intimately with God is as natural as breathing. Furthermore, it is in listening silence and meditation that we learn to become more firmly and compassionately committed to the needs of this world.

We learn to meditate by meditating. Saint Albert the Great said, “The contemplation of the saints is fired by the love of the one contemplated: that is God.” Start by giving some part of your day to meditation. If you are driven by a frantic pace of urgency, you will be unable to attend to a moment of silence and solitude. Contemplative prayer is a way of life, and we must seek a sense of balance in life, an ability to rest, an ability to be at peace from activity, an ability to pace ourselves and to pursue “holy leisure.”

Next you need to find a place of quiet solitude. It is best to designate a place of uninterrupted silence. Take yourself away from technology and consciously choose a posture of peace and relaxation, breathe deeply, release anxiety, and nurture an inner attitude of prayer. Choose a posture that communicates receptivity and enables you to center your attention on Christ. Whisper a short prayer or meaningful word if your mind begins to wander.

Do not be discouraged if in the beginning your meditations have little meaning to you. Be patient with yourself and take heart; your task is of tremendous worth. The spiritual life is one of progression as you learn to develop a new rhythm of life. Meditation is not a single act; it is a way of life. To practice the spiritual discipline of meditation is “To pray to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all seeing, within you.” -Saint Theophan the Recluse

To be in the presence of God is to follow Christ’s example, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).