In our hope to inspire crowdsourcing around your best practices and experiences of Spiritual Practice here is another approach: “Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
Meditation takes many forms with many names. The one for this focus is captured by the term ‘Centering Prayer’. Its essence is stillness through release and surrender into the love of God.
It will not surprise you that ‘Wikipedia’ gives some description and history around this including instructions from one of my mentors: M Basil Pennington. You can find this information here. Some approaches focus this around the ‘Jesus Prayer” (“Jesus’" or “Jesus Christ, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner”). A similar approach can be found in the Buddhist practice of Tonglen. You can get a basic insight into this practice here. And, of course, one of classical approaches popular at the end of the last century is Transcendental Meditation.
All of these point to a very simple approach that will continue to take shape and form within you for a lifetime. Here is a practice I use:
Find a quiet place with little or no distractions. You can play music or not. Light a candle or not. Sit with your back and head straight and feet comfortably on the floor, or not.
Take a few deep breaths to relax and release the day. Offer a prayer of gratitude and surrender or openness to the Spirit in this moment.
Begin by focusing on your breathing. In my meditation I simply breathe in and out focusing on the Word: “Jesus”
Invariably my mind wanders — some traditions call in ‘monkey mind’. It’s a mind hoping around from thought to thought. What I do depends on the thought:
If it is just random thoughts on any number of things (schedules, grocery list, upcoming plans, the weather, etc.) I name the thought as thinking, and let it go: Like smoke in the wind or a bubble or feather drifting and dissolving away.
If it evokes a strong emotion I detach the emotion from the story that created it and spend a moment lightly holding the emotion, examining its color, intensity, shape, texture, sound, temperature, density, age, movement, etc. I give it its name, honor it and place it into Christ’s hands.
If it emerges as something that calls for contemplation I invite Jesus to reveal to me what I need to learn or what I might be called to do. Then, again, I place it gently into the hands of Christ, trusting that Jesus will bring it back to me if and when I need to engage in deeper contemplation.
Then after any of the above, I return to breathing with one in breath focusing on gratitude and one out breath focusing on praise before returning to breathing in and out with that Word: ”Jesus”.
In all of this I attempt to hold in my soul, heart and mind a ‘posture’ of openness and availability to God: “Here I am.”
I find typically that I cycle over and over again through 3,4 and 5.
And I remember that there is no perfect meditation, there is no perfect meditator and there is no perfect outcome.
If you have a meditation practice that you find meaningful, I invite you to write about it and share it as a comment on our blog or email it to me so we can include it on our new Faith Awakenings Web page.
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