This morning’s blog provides tools to assist you in your goal of starting and/or maintaining a spiritual/meditation practice. To begin a spiritual practice, first we need to dispel some myths, then we need to set the stage. Here you go. (PS To regular blog readers, I feel like I already posted this recently, but I can’t find any evidence thereof. So if this is a repeat…..I guess it bears repeating! 🙂 )
The following are myths that have been propogated in regards to meditation as a spiritual practice. None of these myths (from my perspective as an experienced meditator and Spiritual Director) are true.
- Meditation has a goal
- The goal of meditation is silencing of the mind
- There is a right and a wrong way to ”do” meditation
- If you reach the state of peace, you did it right….if not, you did it wrong
- An empty mind is the devil’s playground
- Meditating makes you a ”better” person
- Only enlightened/holy people meditate
- Meditation is the path to enlightenment
- Sitting in silence is the only valid form of meditation….or it is the preferred method
- Meditation is an Eastern practice and cannot be practiced by Christians
- Eastern meditation practices are dangerous
- Lay people cannot meditate
Before embarking on a meditation practice, it may be helpful to know:
- The goal of spiritual practice is “NO GOAL.” Your job is to simply show up. Striving after a goal (other than showing up) will prove to be an obstacle to your practice.
- There is no right or wrong way to meditate.
- If you find that state of inner calm and peace…..it is PURE GRACE…..not something you received because you finally meditated the right way or enough times.
- There is a rich tradition of meditation and contemplation in the Western Hebrew and Christian traditions.
- It is in the emptiness that we find God/Love/Truth…..and we are also invited to find God in the midst of the chaos.
- Meditation can be receptive (listening, sitting, being) or active (expressing, moving, giving, processing,).
- Meditation encompasses many formats and practices including but not limited to: meditative reading of sacred texts, journalling, sitting in silence, movement (yoga, tai chi, dance, etc.), chant, listening to music, daydreaming, paying attention to our dreams, mindfulness practices, acts of service, making love, being present to our family and friends, being out in nature, creative expression, painting, drawing, cooking, cleaning, etc. etc. etc.
- A spiritual practice is anything that helps us to connect with God, peace, love, joy, flow, compassion, harmony, forgiveness, mercy, ecstasy.
- In the Western tradition, Meditation refers to the reflective thoughts in the mind. In the Eastern Tradition, meditation is understood to mean sitting in silence. Contemplation is the term used in the Western tradition to refer to sitting or being in silence with God.
- The only danger in meditation or contemplation is connecting with your truth. Warning: Truth can be a dangerous thing if we are not prepared or if we do not have the tools to handle it. As Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will kick your butt.”
- Meditation may lead you to enlightenment, if that is your path in this life; regardless, it will help you to be a happier, more peaceful and more loving human being.
- From the Hebrew and Christian perspectives, meditation and contemplation will empower you to experience the Kingdom of God right here, right now, in this life. You will discover that you don’t have to die to know the peace and love of God.
- Meditation can be practiced by ANYONE……regardless of your race, color, creed, education, status, position of power, ordained or not, etc. etc. etc.
As mentioned above, there is no right or wrong way to meditation or to enter into spiritual practice. I have learned, however, that there are certain things we can do that will help us to be successful in our goal of SHOWING UP for our spiritual practice. Remember…the only goal is to SHOW UP. The following steps may help you to do this.
- Set aside a regular time each day for your spiritual practice where you can be uninterrupted for 15-30 minutes. For many people, this is first thing in the morning, but choose a time that works for your own personal bio-rhythms.
- Choose a special place in your home or office that is designated as your place for your spiritual practice. It might be a certain chair in your living room, your drawing easel, maybe you have the luxury of setting up a meditation corner or room.
- Have the tools that you need for your practice near your chosen place – your journal, a bible, writing utensils, maybe a candle or incense burner, a blanket.
- Turn off any potential distractions – phones, computers, pagers, etc.
- Create a ritual that helps you to enter into your spiritual practice. Light a candle. Burn incense. Say a prayer. Bow to your sacred space.
Watch tomorrow’s blog for an exciting announcement about the Agape’ Project, another tool to help you in your spiritual practice.
Authentic Freedom Ministries