On occasion, I hear accusations against the practice of mediation. Some believe it is foreign to the Christian faith. Not so.
Jesus had Eastern roots
We must remember, Jesus was Jewish. He came from a solidly Jewish background. His religious teachings and thought processes were decidedly Eastern.
In the beginning years of Christianity, the practice of withdrawal form daily activity was routine. Early Christians did as Jesus did. (Luke 4:42, 6:12; Mark 6:31, 6:46 etc.) They took time to contemplate the presence of God in their world.
Hermits and mystics
Christianity became the official state religion during the fourth century. These quiet practices were lost among the games of political power and social climbing. The Desert Fathers and Mothers took to the hills unable to stomach the change in focus. The shift caused by the move from persecution to prestige had lead many away from following Jesus’ teachings. Contemplation and meditation soon became the property of hermits, mystics and the occasional solitary monastery.
Rediscovering our own
Perhaps that is why the Holy Spirit did not allow St. Paul to go east in his evangelisation. He went to Macedonia instead. (Acts 16:6-10) In this way, the religious groups of the East preserved the crucial practices of contemplation and mediation. Today Buddhism and Hinduism inspired an opportunity to reconnect to our own traditions.
Only recently, in the past fifty years or so, we began to use these important tools again. They are essential in the process of surrender. Emptying ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit enough room to linger brings us closer to God. We began to follow Jesus again instead of worshipping him. After all, following him, imitating his practices, is what he asked us to do. (John 21:19)
Here is an example of a guided meditation: I love you.
Remove yourself from the hubbub of normal life. As you sit in meditation, quietly focus your attention on your breathing. Each time you realize you have drifted off into thoughts, memoires or sensations. Simply return to your breathing.
As you inhale, hear God’s silent words, “I love you”.
Exhaling, breathe out a silent “I love you” back to God.
Inhale and be aware of the air as God flowing into you.
As you exhale, allow your “I love you” to be your very being, flowing back into the depths of God.
James Finley (Center for Action and Contemplation)