The latest buzz word this past year is the word “meditate”. It’s even been called “The #1 Health-Booster in 2015” by Virginia Sole-Smith in Parade magazine and says that “politicians, children and celebrities are doing it – shouldn’t you?”*
The article tells us that by simply taking the time to meditate can make all the difference in your health and well-being this year. Many celebrities are endorsing meditation as well as programs used to help at-risk schoolchildren thrive in the classroom, and prison inmates cope with the stress of incarceration.
“The goal of mindfulness is to make you more focused and aware, so your mind and body can be in the same place at the same time,” says U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who credits mindfulness for helping him prevent burnout. “I compare it to what athletes experience when they’re totally in the zone.” He believes in meditation so strongly that he holds weekly meditation sessions on Capitol Hill.
The main principles of meditation or mindfulness are to: breathe, hug, eat and walk totally focused on what you are doing. You are to focus on each breath, each person you hug, each item you eat and each step you take.
Meditation has roots in Buddhism but most people today practice a non-religious form of mindfulness that requires nothing more than sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. When your mind wanders – and it will – just refocus on your breathing.
What is hard to understand is that something so easy can be so powerful. Brain studies show different parts of the brain lighting up and activating during meditation. “You can literally change your brain through this practice” says psychologist Elisha Goldstein, author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion.
Meditation has been seen as a way to improve both mental and physical health. Molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn developed a program called “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” and documented how it worked to ease pain, suffering and stress in cancer patients. His findings were so compelling that over 250 hospitals around the world now uses his program to promote patient well being.
But wait! Isn’t this what God has been telling us to do all along? In my humble opinion, prayer is the Christians way of meditating! Instead of focusing on my breath as they instruct, why not focus on our Lord?
Didn’t Jesus get away alone each day, multiple times, to pray with His Father? He came back refreshed and ready to tackle the stresses of the day.
I actually do believe that meditating is powerful and a discipline we all should do. But…I choose to focus on God when I get alone and quiet – to listen for His voice, to praise Him and to enjoy His presence.
Manna from Heaven
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in His law he meditates, day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water which yield its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1: 1-3
“And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” Matthew 14:23
*Parade Magazine, January 11, 2015