Part 2- Dispelling fears
In the previous post, I introduced some misconceptions and questions regarding meditation. I want to attempt to go over the questions that I raised and hopefully, dispel any fears about meditation that some may have.
How is Christian meditation different from prayer? To be honest, depending on your definition of prayer, there is no difference per se. Prayer is both speaking and listening to God. However, I think for most of us the difference would be that with meditation, there is no striving to hear God and there is no dialogue. There is only receptivity and simply a communion of the heart between you and God.
How is Christian meditation different from Eastern meditation? This question sometimes gets asked as a fear-based question. Why are so many Christians afraid of what is different and not Christian? 1John 4:18 says: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. The main difference between Eastern and Christian meditation is the person who is meditating. If you are a Christian, you will meditate and pray differently from those who aren’t as a matter of course. However, what I find with Eastern meditation is that it often resonates with Christian teaching. Part of traditional or Eastern meditation is focusing on a specific truth which elevates us. The bible calls these truths the ‘fruits of the spirit’. So during meditation, you may decide to focus on gentleness or love or peace or self-control.
How is meditation different from contemplative prayer? I sometimes look at it as a different type of meditation. The difference is that with contemplative prayer (also very worth while and exciting!) your mind is actively engaged (with me it is often hyper-actively engaged) while with meditation, your mind is at peace and your heart is the one engaged.
How is meditation different from daydreaming? Daydreaming is a loss of control as your mind is often simply wandering. With meditation, there is usually focus. However, you may find yourself daydreaming while you are meditating because you have lost your focus. If you start to daydream, you need to call your focus back.
How is meditation different from self-hypnosis? This is a harder question to answer. When the intention is self-improvement such as quitting smoking or losing weight, then self-hypnosis is often used. Meditation can seem goal-oriented when focusing on the fruits of the spirit. However, while you are meditating you are not actually focusing on the goal of acquiring the fruits of the spirit. That may be your goal before you begin but while you are actually meditating, you are detached from the outcome. It just so happens that you do acquire them (the fruits) as a result of meditating on them.
To be continued in Part 3 where we will look at how to get started.