Lately I've been running into a lot of people who aren't sure about the concept of meditation. They know it can help them but they're confused about whether or not Christians are allowed to meditate. I've written this post so you can evaluate and make an informed decision for yourself. If you've been confused or heard that meditation is bad, then keep reading because the truth will set you free.
But before we get into that, my wife Erica wanted me to share her story of how she found God. I think you'll like it.
“God exists!” I suddenly was overcome with the utter awareness in every fiber of my being. “God you're here. I feel you in me.” Something in me awakened. In an instant I understood on a level that went beyond words that the God of the universe was in me, in everyone, God was everywhere. I opened my eyes and looked up into the huge clear blue sky as I sat on the deck of a ship in the middle of Caribbean Ocean. I was awake. Alive and I would never see myself, humanity, or God the same... I was 17years old.
Today, I own a wellness center with my husband and it is a deep expression of the awakening I had 19 years ago. I am confident that my journey, life experiences, education and purpose has prepared me for every step that unfolds before me today as I work in wellness with a God filled life and the understanding of a scientist and a healer.
Prior to the moment where I consciously experienced the existence of God I found myself almost in rage over the idea that a creator on any level was out there and what ever it was couldn’t possibly be inside of me or connected as one to me.
I had felt completely powerless in my adolescence.
I had some experiences that had become so painful in my mind that no amount of alcohol or drugs could silence the screaming voice (my own voice that something was terribly wrong with me.) My parents were and are the best parents I could asked for along with my younger sister and they loved and believed in me no matter how dark my world became.
I had unsuccessfully tried to end my life a year before my “meeting with God”. I had since started seeing a counselor and learned to cope with pain in a less self destructive way.
My mom had given me a book to read while I was on a trip with my dad and sister. I distinctly remember saying to her as she handed it to me on my way out the door to the trip, “mom this isn’t any of that God sh%$ is it?” Her patience was absolutely developed with my existence to put it lightly. The book was called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It was a story of God's love based on a story in the bible. I devoured the book.
Light reached places in my soul that nothing else had even come close too. It’s almost like ice was melting inside of me….walls of self protection that I couldn’t seem to climb over inside had trapped me... inside of me. I finished the book and when I closed it I felt the rush of energy sweep through me and it's like I remembered something I had always known but had forgotten.
The love that coursed through my veins for people (including myself) was so pure and strong and sometimes overwhelming.
I ran and told my little sister and she was so excited for me, she said “I know I have been trying to tell you” as we jumped up and down. I told my dad and he was also so very happy for me. One of the first thoughts that I kept having was “I just want everyone to know how much God loves them..that they are love”
I had a million questions and I wanted to go find others that felt what I felt or had experienced what I was experiencing. I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life helping others find the profound freedom I had awakened to.
I started my senior year of highschool shortly following this transformation. I found it difficult to relate to anyone the way I had before. Parties, social status, etc. no longer resonated with me. I just wanted to read, pray, sit alone with God and listen. It was a time to go inward and there was much to reconnect with.
At 18 following graduation I found myself driving from my small mountain town in Colorado to L.A. California to attend one of the best Christian Universities in the Nation.
I was scared because I had no friends or family that I knew in California but my soul new I was on a mission. I was going to get to be with TONS of people who were crazy in love with God, Jesus and felt the power of the Holy spirit coursing through their veins like I did and we would go and help so many people find love and healing!....
I learned within the first week that I was what they called a “Jesus Freak”.
My experience of God was “too much”. “God is not in you, God is separate from you” ….I learned many “beliefs” and “rules” about God. I felt so confused and sad and very alien.
I did not experience God this way. He told me how much he loved me and all of his creations and that he is in us and we are made very powerfully with the ability to create with our words and move things with our faith and that we can do all that Jesus did and more including heal the sick and that our soul mission was to love and that no amount of activities, accomplishments, rule following, classes, degrees, titles...would be more important than love..period...ever.” (1 Corinthians 13:2, John 14:12 )
He also said NOTHING can separate you from my love, no amount of missing the mark, learning, confusion, fear, shame, anger, addiction,...nothing EVER ( Romans 8:31-39 NLT). I minored in biblical studies, I took apologetics and I am highly aware that of the current approx. 4,200 different religions on planet earth right now and the 33,000+ different Christian denominations (http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a106.htm ) , someone's 600 page dissertation could go into strong opposition on my experience.
But that's my point. I have my own personal, highly active connected relationship with God and we are never separate and today the love courses through my veins. I have let go of needing my experience and someone else's experience to be the same. I just love God and people and that's all I know.
I tried very hard to sound, look, act like many different groups but when I denied the still small voice inside of me I became terrified again. In my adult walk I created as much to help others as I could without “standing out”. I was afraid to be me. I began to feel shame and confusion about who I am or why I’m here again...the more I tried to please others so they would love or accept me the more I fell apart and ultimately created a person they rejected because I had rejected myself.
I experience God in a still quiet place...I sit and meditate every day. I sense God's presence constantly, I see God in everyone, I hear and experience the holy spirit and angels the way I used too when I first woke up before I tried to shrink God into an organized human filter.
I experience a wild, magnificent, co-creative life with God.
We all have the same access to our inner spirit, we are all here to love ALL OF WHAT WE ARE and we are powerful whether we want to be or not. I have found God more in science and nature than I ever thought possible. Today I am working relentlessly, along with my husband, to bring healing to the human body and life with modalities that work with the way we are created.
So YES meditation is very important in my daily practice and a theological debate takes the God of the universe, the God of my every breath, the God of every frequency of my creation and attempts to define God in a semantics book on a shelf that quickly become just words and philosophy separating humans from the LIVING word and LIVING God by the limitations of our own mind's interpretation...and that's just not the God I experience when I let go and listen. May we all step into the fullest expression of our spirit and the power of God within each of us. -Love, Erica
The following is what the bible has to say about meditation.
You may be wondering what the bible has to say about meditation. In this post I'm going to show you what the bible has to say about meditation. Both the verses that support meditation and the verses that don't (spoiler alert: there are only verses that support meditation).
First, lets look at the definition of the word meditate.
Websters dictionary defines this word as:
1. To engage in contemplation or reflection.
2. To engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness
3. To focus one's thought on : reflect on or ponder over
Lets have a look at the origin.
Origin of the word meditate:
Now, yes there is that part in the second definition of "mantra" and "a heightened level of spiritual awareness" which you may be wondering about.
So what is a mantra?
Websters defines a mantra as:
1. a sound, word or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating.
2. a mystical formulation of invocation or incantation (as in Hinduism).
3. a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone's basic beliefs.
Origin of the word mantra:
As you may have already gathered, when one speaks out against meditation in the name of Christianity he/she is referring to definition #2 of meditation and including definition #2 for the word mantra as well.
This obviously does not cover the scope of all forms of meditation nor all meditation centers. It is merely an argument of semantics and typically not an argument made by one who has taken the 5 minutes to look up a few definitions.
However, sometimes one has looked up the definitions and still attempts to make this argument. If this is the case, then you should consider seeking a second opinion...
That being said, here's what the Bible says about meditation:
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the watches of the night;
My eyes are awake before the night watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
Oh how I love your law! it is my meditation on all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
Then I said, "I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High." I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.
Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
I said, "let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart." Then my spirit made a diligent search:
But you are doing away with the fear of God and hindering meditation before God.
Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long.
Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
What's all the fuss about?
Since we can clearly see that the bible supports meditation, what's the problem? When someone tells a Christian that meditation is bad they are referring to the eastern form of meditation.
To practice this form of meditation, you'd have to intend, to literally set your intention, to reach a heightened level of spiritual connection with another god or deity. This can be with or without the Hindu mantra. This is not something many (or any) Christians are doing to my knowledge.
However, if you use a mantra in the form of definitions 1 or 3 above. You're all good. You see, if someone is going to twist the definitions of words in an effort to manipulate you into avoiding things that can help you...then you may want to consider surrounding yourself with more positive and uplifting people. Of course its also entirely possible that they were trying to help you but didn't do their homework first.
Because lets face it, words are powerful and can be twisted in many ways. One could twist prayer into being a bad thing.
Websters defines the word pray as:
1. (a) an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought (b) a set or order or words used in praying (c) an earnest request or wish
2. the act or practice of praying to God or a god
3. a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers
4. something prayed for
5. a slight chance
Origin of the word prayer:
Entreaty: an earnest or humble request.
One could argue that people pray to "a god" other than The God. Dictionary.com states prayer as: "a devout petition to God or an object of worship."
You and I both know that people are praying to their gods and objects of worship all over the world. That person could then argue (based on that definition) that prayer is a bad thing right? They could build a case that prayer is practiced in other religions and therefore opens you up to negativity and spiritual attack. Because prayer is practiced in the Hindu religion (and most others) as well.
As ridiculous as this sounds (and believe me, I know how ridiculous this sounds) its just as ridiculous when someone uses broad strokes and generalizations to condemn all forms of meditation.
There are literally tomes of information on the benefits of meditation. Scientifically demonstrating how much meditation can help everything from focus to severe problems like anxiety, depression and even more.
What matters, again, is the intention you have behind everything you do. You can pray for someone to get hurt just the same as you can pray for someone to be healed. You could meditate on Hindu principles just as you can meditate on Gods Word. Its all about your intention when you're doing this activity.
If your intention is pure, then let NO man tell you otherwise. You know what you're doing. You know your heart. You know your intentions are pure.
You don't have to look very hard to find out that many extremely successful people meditate. Two of my favorite meditating Christians are Tony Robbins and Hugh Jackman.
Anthony Robbins - Christian and meditates daily.
Picture from: Business Insider
- Entrepreneur worth an estimated $480,000,000 and growing daily.
- Best-selling author of several books.
- Philanthropist - has fed hundreds of millions of people...HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS!
- The worlds leading business strategist.
- Serves as an adviser to leaders around the world.
- Has personally prevented thousands of suicides.
- His books and audio programs are in over 100 countries and have helped over 50 million people.
- Sells out stadiums with his breakthrough seminars.
- Actively manages 12 companies with over $5 billion per year in sales.
- Has initiated programs in 1,500 schools, 700 prisons, and 50,000 service organizations and shelters.
- Provides fresh drinking water to 100,000 people EVERY DAY.
- Personally provided more than 59,000,000 meals and matched funds to feed another 100,000,000 the very next year.
- Meditates every single day. Its the first thing he does in the morning.
- And that's just some of the stuff he's contributed to society and the world at large.
Hugh Jackman - Christian and meditates daily.
- Dedicates every performance to God.
- Famous actor starring in many movies and plays.
- Recipient of many prestigious acting awards.
- Supports over 27 different charities with donations, time and energy.
- Global adviser of the Global Poverty Project.
- World Vision ambassador.
- Owner of Laughing Man worldwide which donates all proceeds to education, community and business development.
- Supports 21 different causes with donations, time and energy.
- And he's done much more to better our planet that isn't included in this list.
- Meditates every single day.
These are just two of my favorites. Other very successful people who meditate include:
Ray Dalio, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Bridges, Flavio Canto, Sheryl Crow, Paul Dalio, Cameron Diaz, Clint Eastwood, Oprah, Moby, Rupert Murdoch, Katy Perry, Russell Simmons, John Stamos, and so many more. Not all of them are Christian but they have all achieved great success in their fields and given back to society.
If you're interested in reading more about Christianity and meditation, here's a few books that dive a little deeper:
Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation - Martin Laird
Silence: A User's Guide - Maggie Ross
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer - Richard Rohr
Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology - Gerald May
Well there you have it. If you're a Christian and you were confused or feeling guilty about meditating then hopefully this has helped you make a more informed decision. You have nothing to feel guilty about and you're not doing anything wrong. The fact is that daily meditation can be a part of your routine. Especially if you deal with concentration problems, stress, anxiety, depression, or just want to feel peaceful and cultivate successful actions in your life. Start today! Here's an article with a quick 5 minute meditation to get you started.