How effective is meditation in reaching God?
Meditation - a religious practice
We find meditation in all major religions. It can be seen how in recent years the interest in meditation has increased and apparently meets a need of today's people.
Meditating is practicing, is a way of practicing attitudes.
It's about becoming awake, mindful and listening.
Awake to the world in and around me
awake to myself and to the reality of God in all things.
To meditate is to pray. Even if the approach to meditation can be different and some people start meditation to calm down and to free themselves from stress, this does not take anything away from meditation as a prayer practice. Meditation is a very suitable posture and practice in order to focus one's attention entirely on God alone. To leave out everything that leads away from God. I am there for God with body and soul. Through meditation I become more and more a prayer myself.
This way is a long way. The task of man is to prepare, to be ready. The human being strives for this “being there” before God and is at the same time aware that he cannot do anything himself here, but that everything is God's grace. It seems like a paradox: To make an effort - and still not want to achieve anything, to let go completely, to let myself be given gifts completely.
Goals of meditation
Ultimately, the goal of meditation is God himself. It is a very high goal to be guided more and more in the course of a longer path to seek not the gifts of God in meditation, but God himself. “To seek God alone and to trust in them that He gives us everything we need (Mt 6:33), that is contemplation. "
(Jalics p. 105)
The goal of meditation is devotion. “Devotion to God is often done with words. It can also be expressed in terms of actions. But you can also give yourself to God with being. Just be there for God. This is deepest and purest surrender. This is our way. ... Contemplative prayer is devotion, worship and praise of God with being. "
(Jalics p. 105)
And never forget: The goal of meditation is always to live in the middle of everyday life. From the seclusion I come back to the middle of the “market square”. The practice of meditation wants to serve my everyday life so that I am more attentive there, more present, that I - connected with God - take the necessary steps there. The goal is to become contemplative in action.
The way to the goal
It is very recommendable for this path to express before the meditation time that I am now giving this time to God as a gift.
At the beginning of every meditation I renew this personal intention.
“Whether one is looking for God or oneself in meditation, i.e. one's own spiritual progress, can be seen in the independence of the results. Those who really give their meditation time to God are satisfied, regardless of whether the invested lifetime was useful or not, “regardless of whether their meditation seems good to them or not.
(Jalics, p. 106)
And if we don't succeed in this: I mustn't want to achieve this lack of intentions like an achievement either. The important thing is that I always start over, simply to align myself with God. I try to keep coming back to this unintentional focus on God. Over a longer period of time, this can also affect our lives and work in the middle of everyday life.
As a whole person - meditate with body and breath
In meditation, the person is addressed in his entirety and the practice also includes the body.
An inner upright posture and an outward upright posture are mutually supportive. Correspondingly, the optimal meditation posture is an upright and straight one that helps attentiveness and truth. Open (or slightly opened) eyes help that I do not get tired so easily, that I do not pursue daydreams and they underline that this path is oriented towards reality and not towards illusions. It's about being wide awake in the presence of God.
Most people meditate while sitting upright, which does not rule out the possibility of meditating while walking, standing, lying, kneeling or dancing. It is helpful to start with a body awareness at the beginning. The perception of the floor that carries me, of the contact with seat cushions or clothes etc. leads me more into the present, into the now. Then I move on to perceiving my breath; I watch him come and go by himself. And when I have a lot of thoughts and distractions, I always go back to the perception of the breath. The breath helps me to become emptier of thoughts and ideas.
With the breath I can also concentrate on a word that I speak internally with every breath, or better, hear internally. I look for my own word (e.g. "my light" / "peace" ...) or meditate with the name of God. There is an old tradition in Christianity of praying with the name of Jesus: "Jesus Christ". The exhalation is associated with the name "Jesus" and the inhalation with "Christ". A longer form is: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." The Jesus prayer is also called "prayer of the heart".
About the meaning of the word: "meditation" or "contemplation"?
A look at history: The following forms of prayer developed in the Christian prayer tradition: Lectio - Meditatio - Contemplatio.
“Lectio” means the spiritual reading of a text from the Bible. This Bible text was considered as the next step in the “Meditatio”; this means looking at the text, thinking through it, letting it work on you. Relate the text to me and my life.
Finally, the “contemplatio” is an existence without reflection, a being with God. Here the person tries to let go of his activity completely, to leave himself to God and to let God work alone. Basically, contemplation is a gift for which I cannot do anything myself except to be ready to be open and awake for it.
Today the word "meditation" is used very often in the sense of the contemplative path and actually means sitting in silence, the so-called non-objective meditation. In comparison, there is object-related meditation, in which images, symbols, works of art or texts are the object of meditation. That means I concentrate on this "object", e.g. concentrate on a flower, a cross or something similar.
When I use the word "meditation" here, I am doing it in this contemplative sense: it is about the "contemplatio".
Jalics Franz: Contemplative Exercises. An introduction to the contemplative way of life and the Jesus prayer. Wuerzburg 1994
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