Now that we have talked through the biblical foundation for Christian meditation, reviewed its roots in tradition, and established the physiological benefits of meditation, it is time to put it into practice. If you are task-oriented like me you have probably already thought about blocking out some time each day in your schedule to practice one form of meditation. This is a good thing and I don’t want to discourage intentional spiritual growth. But I do want to challenge it.
Remember the purpose of the disciplines? Intentional relationship with God. Naturally, then, meditation (as with all the disciplines) is ultimately practiced continuously. How do you accomplish that when our mind is constantly harassed by external diversions? Can I really meditate while I am writing formulas in an Excel spreadsheet? Or how about dodging traffic in the daily commute?
Well, the Church Fathers had a concept that I think will help us out. It is called Otium Sanctum or “holy leisure”. It is the ability to balance your physical life with your spiritual life, take time to rest and enjoy the beauty all around us. In other words, when you notice a sunset, you allow yourself to meditate on God’s paintbrush. When you feel a gentle breeze, you close your eyes and feel the whisper on your skin. You reflect upon Jesus’ teachings about coming to God with the faith of child as you watch the children in your own life love you beyond your own shortcomings. Taking a brief moment to experience the holy within the rush of every day life.
If you think about it, God didn’t stop his involvement in creation after Genesis 1. He’s active right now as you are reading this blog post. And if He is always active, then its really a matter of us recognizing that engagement around us.
I want to take a moment to outline my own personal experiences with meditation. Before I do, I want to make sure that my intent is understood. Normally, the lens of experience is discussed with brothers and sisters, so that you sharpen one another. My intent is to open the conversation, whether through comments or better yet, if you run into me out in the real world, we could talk through your own journey with Christ.
- Palm Technique – I have practiced this one since I encountered it probably 10 years ago. The turning of my palms helps me focus, so this becomes my default practice. Over the years, I’ve given many things over to God that I would normally dwell on and so I like that aspect of it. On the flip side, I struggle with making sure that I am not substituting my own agenda with God’s answer.
- Lectio Divina – This is the challenge I took upon myself this week and I failed miserably. I found a devotional that gives you a passage with no commentary and walks you through this technique. The problem was that I was completely impatient. I don’t want to sit and think through all the possible things that God could be saying. I want to hurry up and get to the part where I am talking. And the contemplating step – ugh. I don’t want to sit in silence! I will coming back to this discipline, because I have more to learn.
- Hesychasm – I shared my personal experience when I wrote the post. Repeating the Jesus Prayer brought me to tears as I recognized what Christ accomplished on the cross and the weight of my own sins. It was a cleansing, powerful experience and one that I will revisit again.
- Otium Sanctum – I try. I feel weird sometimes. It’s like I want to stop and acknowledge God at work in awkward moments because the world around me is too much like a hospital. No religious lingo at work or you might offend someone. And if I’m completely honest, I find myself asking why I’m so weird in this regard. As a child, I built altars out in the woods by our house as a place to pray. I had rules about coming in my bedroom while I was praying. I spoke as if talking about God is the most natural thing in the world.
And I felt isolated because of it. Among the Christian circles, it’s fine. But out in the real world, not so much. This summer, when we knew our relationship was headed for divorce, we both went to a prayer a ministry on separate visits. During my visit, the lady who prayed over brought me to tears (I’m crying a little thinking about it). She said that people look at me and they don’t see the manly things that our culture clings too. They see God at work in me and that for most it looks like weakness. But it’s not a weakness, it’s a gift. And a godly woman will see that in me and she will find it attractive. But what if I’m tire of being the freak? I can’t walk into a group of guys and talk about sports, cars or beer. I don’t care about the weather or the latest animal you killed. That’s not me. I like technology, fantasy literature, playing video games with my friends and freaking love God more than anything in the world. I love Him because He has always been the most amazing Father to me. What if loving God that way makes me feel ostracized and lonely sometimes?
I’m not questioning if its worth it and I honestly can’t love Him less. Just a struggle of my own.
So what about you? How has your experiences with meditation come along this week?
Interested in reading more about Christian meditation. Be sure to check out the other posts:
- Spiritual Discipline: Meditation
- Meditation: Lens of Tradition
- Meditation: Lens of Tradition II
- Meditation: Lens of Reason