Meditation may not be what you’ve imagined it is. In my experience, the art of meditation is essential but is also highly misunderstood. It can also become unnecessarily confusing.
The practice of Christian meditation finds its roots in the Scriptures. The Bible writers mention the practice of meditation at least 20 times and link it to blessings and the prosperous way. Seems kind of important, eh?
However, since the early 1700s, the church-world has become heavily influenced by the philosophies that were birthed by, what is known as, ‘The Age of Reason.’
In a nutshell, the idea was that the process of intelligent reasoning was the only vehicle to discover the truth and, therefore, adequately navigate life. Any notion that there is a spiritual dimension for informing reality was rejected. With this belief, the church’s systems of theology, and discovery of spiritual truth became increasingly intellectual, logical, and reason-centered.
As Author and Christian Apologist Josh McDowell has said, “Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean the person checks their brains at the door.” I agree with Josh. God created human beings with an essential capacity to intelligently and logically reason. We cannot navigate our way through life – or spiritual truth – without it.
However, God also created us in His image and after His likeness with the vital capacity to think with the language of the heart, i.e., the theater of intuition. This stage of reality is nonrational (not to be confused with irrational). In other words, the intuitive heart knows, sees, feels, and senses things that the rational, logical mind does not (and cannot) perceive on its own.
In short, the rational and intuitive minds of the head and the heart must learn to work together. Without the logical process, the intuitions of the heart would find no practical, constructive, daily focus. Without the intuitive process, though, the rational mind would be deaf, dumb, and blind to the heart of God. Yes, the logical mind forms and presents important building-block facts; but, those bits of information tend to be sterile and without the ability to add meaning, warmth, and creativity to life. When the rational and nonrational minds learn to become a symphony working together, the quality of one’s life takes on a whole new dimension, and the Scriptures come to life. It’s then that the breath of heart- intuition breathes into the rational mind and Ezekial’s dry bones rise and walk out of the valley of lifelessness. (Ezekial 37:1-14)
Another Unfortunate Christian Belief
It is my opinion that we need to be discerning as to which beliefs we allow to guide our lives, but this includes the teachings of our churches, as well. Too many Christians have come to believe that anything they don’t understand – or is beyond the scope of their churches understanding of the Scriptures – is demonic. Too often we’ve focused our teachings on what to believe instead of how to think with wisdom. We’ve raised sincere believers to be fearful rather than wisely discerning. Our sermons tell the people what is correct belief. Instead, we need to be teaching people how to study and think through the scriptures with the Holy Spirit as their guide. With the what to believe mind-set, instead of how to believe the Western Church has developed a ‘Body of Christ’ locked into immaturity and ineffectiveness.
What Comes First?
In some ways, we are faced with a ‘chicken vs. egg’ problem when we ask which comes first. As Educated Western thinkers, we want to break truth down into compartments of testable scientific order. In reality, healthy thinking is a harmony rather than a separation of definitions.
However, it has been my experience that it has been most helpful to allow the intuitive mind to take the lead.
The rational thought process has been the boss for so long, that even in Spirit-based Christianity, logical reasoning has become a long-standing King…even in the process of doctrinal beliefs. The rational thought process of having to connect all the dots, close every loop in thinking, eliminate ‘not knowing,’ and make sense of everything is something that the rational ‘boss’ fights to retain. It doesn’t like, at all, taking the sub-dominate role.
Truth be told, the average person’s rational mind looks and feels more like a cage of drunken monkies on crack. The role of meditation is primarily two-fold: The first phase, whether it’s for 2 minutes, 20 minutes, or longer, is to purposefully disengage with the ‘monkey mind’ Let the thoughts be there. Simply don’t engage with them. Instead, focus your attention on something that doesn’t require deep thought or problem-solving. A very uncomplicated focal point that doesn’t require your logical processor to engage. Instead, let your thoughts be the paying of attention to a word of worship, like ‘Abba,’ or ‘thank you’ to simply the relaxed inhale and exhale of your breathing. Do that until you feel relaxed in mind and body.
You can actually meditate while you are doing dishes, mowing the grass, of shoveling snow. Yep, that’s legitimate. It works. The point is to allow your attention to be focused, for at least a few minutes daily, on a task that doesn’t require energy from your rational mind.
The Second Step
Once you have become relaxed, you can engage with imagining and feeling a scripture passage of the written word. What would it look, feel, sound, and smell like to be ‘within’ the story? But, you don’t always have to engage with the written Word of Scripture to be meditating on the Word. God also speaks to us through His Word of Nature. For example: Take a few moments to consider the beauty (not the scientific chemical complexity) of a leaf. If you’re a new mother, watch your baby breathe while it sleeps. Allow your breathing to harmonize with hers or his. Feel the deep sense of gratitude. Ask God to show you something about yourself as you watch your baby. You can do the same thing as you watch your baby play.
The point is to relax, deep breath, and process with your heart. Ultimately, the brain will also be engaged and help you form the intuitive thoughts that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.
The arena of God’s truth is so vast that limiting it to the size of our intellectual capacities to understand is ludicrous. We need, what the Apostle Paul calls, ‘revelation.’ If you prefer the term ‘illumination,’ then use that description. Without the eyes of our heart seeing much deeper than the eyes of our human logic, we are chained to the Sunday School theology of a seven-year-old. In fact, in my opinion, that’s the problem with the average Christian and Church today. Holy Spirit wants to reveal so much more of God’s heart, but we’ve willingly, or inadvertently shoe-horned our faith into the boxes of human design and understanding.
There’s more. So.much.more! And in knowing the truth more thoroughly, you’ll discover His freedom more wholly.
What method of meditation is for you? The one you can make a consistent habit of. The one that is not an occasional hobby but a routine like putting on your pants.
The Art of consistent meditation is the doorway of a fresh new world of wisdom and wonder.