Just like there are numerous traditions of meditation practices, so are there many sought after goals in meditation. For some it is to promote relaxation, for others it is to engage in the improvement of ones health such as heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression. Others wish to build up their internal energy or life force, for others to develop or improve upon spiritual fruits such as forgiveness, compassion, generosity, gratitude, patience and love.
Most traditions of meditation requires the individual to direct their focus although some traditions involve chanting a mantra repeatedly in order to make their mind a blank. I was fascinated to learn that an eremitic tradition of meditation exists among the ancient eastern orthodox religion. This meditation is based on the gospel of Mathew ch.6 vs.6 which says, ” When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray…”In this tradition called Hesychasm, meditation is achieved by retreating inwardly in the hopes of attaining knowledge of God. In later Christianity, meditation was used (and still is) to deepen the relationship with God and/or to contemplate God and His revelations.
These days, I see a more blurring of the lines between different traditions and practices of meditation. Through technological advances, the world is getting smaller. Types of meditaion seems to me to becoming more and more of an individual’s preference. We may start off using one tradition but end up changing it gradually into a style to suits our unique individualism.
When I first started to meditate over 20 years ago, I used a style of Christian meditation that I got from a book called Open to God by Joyce Huggett which came with an audio cassette. In this book, it had drawings and pictures to reflect upon as well as passages from the bible. I still remember one picture of a statue of a girl kneeling in the palm of a slightly cupped hand, resting her head against the fingers in adoration. The accompanied music was soothing and beautiful. it was a gem of a book and I used the meditations to get into a relaxed state of mind whereby I simply listened to whatever God wanted to impart.
Another way I often meditated began when I was pregnant with my first child and I was preparing for childbirth. I used to listen to an audio cassette of the sea and envisioned myself being at the seaside, walking along the beach, hearing the crashing waves and the gulls and feeling the sun’s rays on my face.
Recently I took the 21 day meditation challenge ‘Miraculous Relationships’ with Deepak Chopra and Oprah. I was surprised just how good it was. The audio part was 15 minutes long in total and consisted of an introduction by Oprah and then a talk through from Deepak explaining what that day’s focus was on and what the centering thought is. Then he leads the listener into a guided meditation and then silence. I think the meditation itself was only about 5-8 minutes yet I found it deeply refreshing and powerful. It actually set myself up for the day. I would recommend anyone to try it. You can now purchase unlimited access to this meditation online or wait till next year when they have the next challenge for free.
Now when I meditate, I find myself looking within because God is there. He lives in me. He is never farther away then in my heart. How do I know. Because when I do, I feel peace. God is peace. I feel joy. Joy comes from God and being with God. I feel loved and find myself communicating love back.