Meditation as Means of Transformation

A Christian Perspective

 

Meditation encompasses a broad range of religions, beliefs and practices. It has gained popularity in recent years as a way to relieve anxiety and stress, thanks to scientific research that has proven its efficacy. It is commonly known as a Hindu or Buddhist practice and its secular practice is largely derived from these two religions with most aspects of spirituality stripped out. Because of this, Christians today regard meditation either with disinterest or unease despite the history of meditation and contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition.

 

We may find biblical support for meditation in the Old Testament, where we are encouraged to “be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs us that when one prays, one should “go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place.” (Mt 6:6) These verses support a kind of prayer and worship that is silent and deeply personal.

 

The Society for Spiritual Awakening believes that meditation is the highest form of prayer because with the stillness of the physical body and with the silence of the mind and emotions, the soul is blessed with the space to directly experience God’s love and wisdom without any distractions. The practice of meditation with the intention of asking for Jesus Christ’s grace and mercy is the powerful first step in spiritual development and the beginning of the surrendering process. Sitting still with our eyes closed and our hearts open is our tangible participation of offering ourselves up to God’s will.

 

When we meditate with the desire to surrender to Jesus Christ, it is the Holy Spirit who manipulates the meditation process from start to finish. Whatever conscious experience we may have during meditation, we can trust that the Holy Spirit is addressing exactly what our soul needs and that the seeds of transformation are being sown and cultivated within us. Jesus reassures us of this in John when he says, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (Jn14:26)

When one practices meditation consistently with a pure motivation, the Holy Spirit empowers one’s soul. With the soul strengthened, the individual enjoys an abundance of positive consequences across his or her life. Enhanced mental focus and creativity, equanimity in the face of challenges and an overall sense of physical health and well-being are some of the benefits proven by science that comes from this practice. Of course, SSA asserts that all these benefits are merely positive side effects and the real objective of the meditation practice is to pursue one’s personal relationship with God. Jesus teaches this when he says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33)

 

Meditation is a powerful practice of spiritual transformation and as such should be done with great care. With the increase in awareness of God’s presence in oneself comes a myriad of realizations of the many things that one must change within one’s character. This can be a painful process if one’s ego resists the promptings of the Holy Spirit to change and grow up. However, God’s mercy is infinite and as long as we continue to surrender our flawed selves to God, we will be blessed with the grace to change.

 

There are dangers inherent with meditation that all practitioners need to be aware of. Meditation opens up one’s spiritual faculties and energies. In the absence of a spiritual relationship with God that protects an individual during this practice, negative spiritual entities can influence an individual to have undesirable experiences ranging from confusion to depression and may even drive one to contemplate suicide. These negative experiences with meditation have been termed the “dark night of the soul” and are only recently being studied by science. Though these cases are rare, they do occur.

 

To ensure a safe meditation practice it is critical that we understand and respect what St. Paul explains, “for it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. That is why you must rely on God’s armour or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens or have enough resources to hold your ground.” (Eph 6:12-13)

 

Putting Jesus Christ at the center of one’s meditation practice is of utmost importance to avoid the dangers of meditation and spiritual development. Should we have any doubts or fears, Jesus reassures us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me.” (Jn 14:1)

 

SSA advocates a meditation style of listening to verses from Scripture such as Psalms 51, 91, and 23 and John 14, 15 and 17 while one is meditating to invoke the Holy Spirit for protection, guidance, wisdom and elightenment. To strengthen our faith and ground our meditation practice in God, it is ideal to read the Bible especially the books of John, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus and Isaiah, as these books share great spiritual insight about our relationship with God and his Son.

 

St. Paul exhorts us, “Train yourself spiritually.” (1Tim 4:7) Meditation serves as spiritual training for our soul in the same way as going to the gym is training for our physical body. It strengthens our connection with God and empowers us to live with awareness, compassion and wisdom. With this awareness, we realize our weaknesses and are blessed with God’s grace to overcome them. Without this awareness, we doom ourselves to spiritual stagnation, to constantly make the same mistakes in our relationships or work over and over again.

 

Jesus calls us to a life of continuous positive transformation when he commands, “You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) Meditation is the vehicle that we can use on the journey to perfection. As a practice, we return to it again and again to let God transform us into the image of his Son. The Holy Spirit uproots the spectrum of negativity deep within us, from our pride and arrogance, to our selfish hypocritical ways, to our impatient and ungenerous tendencies, and then plants the seed of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22)

 

As we progress in our journey of spiritual development, Jesus reminds us, “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.” (Jn 15:16) God chooses us to have a deep meaningful relationship with him. God transforms us to be conduits of His love to others through acts of kindness and service. Meditation serves to establish this truth into the very core of our souls therefore enabling us to indeed bear fruit.

Guide to Meditation

 

Want to start meditating with us and want to know how? Read on.

 

Why meditate?

  1. Meditation is efficient and effective prayer. There are 3 kinds of prayer. The first is when we talk and then say Amen. The second is when we talk and then we pause to hear if God has anything to say and then say Amen. The third is when we shut up because God already knows what we have to say anyway and we just listen to what God has to say in the silence in our hearts. This third prayer is what meditation is for us and we believe it is the most efficient and effective way to pray whether we want to pray for ourselves, our families, souls in purgatory, world peace, etc.
  2. Meditation is spiritual, mental, emotional and etheric cleansing. As we go about our regular day, we absorb (and also produce) a lot of negative thoughts, volatile emotions and overall icky energy. Meditation is like taking a spiritual bath that cleanses us all of these negativities with the power of the Holy Spirit. When we don’t meditate or pray, we have no outlet to release all of this negativity and it piles on and we get more stressed and burdened as the days go by. When we meditate, we are cleansed and emptied of our spiritual “garbage” and can then be filled with God’s wisdom.
  3. Meditation is spiritual and personal development jet fuel. If you are seeking to change yourself for the better, meditation will propel you to where God wants you to be. Of course, there are still things outside of meditation that you would have to do to achieve your spiritual and personal goals. It’s just that with meditating and surrendering to God, you gain God’s grace and mercy that enables you to overcome whatever struggles and obstacles you may encounter with more ease and lightness.

 

There are many different kinds of meditation, how we meditate at the Society for Spiritual Awakening is slightly different.

 

How To Meditate:

  1. You can meditate in any position. Lying down, sitting on a chair, sitting on a cushion, whatever it is, as long as you are comfortable, relaxed and can stay still for 30 minutes.
  2. Be comfortable. Have a blanket or pillow if you want. Make sure you won’t get hot or cold. Dim the lights or wear an eye mask if it’s too bright.
  3. Turn off any phones or alarms that you may have set. Make sure that you will be undisturbed for the length of the meditation.
  4. Once you are settled, play the Meditation Playlist that you have selected. (Instructions for this follows below.)
  5. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and pray to God that He becomes the focus of your mind and heart.
  6. Relax and let go. Stay still in your most comfortable position for the duration of the meditation.
    • If your mind is racing and you’re anxious and can’t seem to relax or you feel bored, that’s ok. Just be patient and offer your thoughts to God as they come.
    • If you are so relaxed that you fall asleep, that’s ok too! (Thus, the pillows and blanket.) Remember, the soul is always awake, it is your physical body that is asleep.
    • If you are really uncomfortable in the position you started or something starts to itch, feel free to move or scratch or do whatever it is to make yourself comfortable and then relax and close your eyes once again.
  7. At the sound of the bells, the meditation is finished. Take your time before you open your eyes.
  8. If you are meditating with a group, you can take turns sharing what you experienced during meditation and discuss how your relationship with Jesus Christ is developing with your meditation practice. If you are meditating alone, write in a journal anything that you feel is noteworthy about your experience.

That’s it!

 

What should I listen to during meditation? What’s the Meditation Playlist?

We recommend listening to the playlists below of Bible Verses, Gregorian Chants and Russian Hymns. These have been carefully selected and road-tested to give you a relaxing and Christ-centered meditation.
The Bible Verse recordings can be downloaded here. The other tracks can all be purchased on iTunes or streamed on Spotify. Once you have downloaded all the tracks, you can assemble them in the following playlists. Depending on the time you have available, you can choose which playlist to listen to.

 

How often should I meditate?

How often you meditate is a highly personal thing. Meditating daily is fantastic and highly recommended but if that’s still a long way for you, that’s alright. Most of the members of our group started with meditating once a week on Sunday and increased their meditation gradually. Quality of course trumps quantity. Your intention and desire of having a one-on-one conversation with God when you practice meditation is much better than countless hours meditating but your heart’s not really into it. That said, if you choose to make meditation a real spiritual commitment, then carve out the time, schedule it in your calendar and make it a non-negotiable activity because your soul demands it.

 

What can I expect after meditating?

It’s common to feel calmer and more relaxed after meditating. You’re like a computer that just got rebooted, so your mind may be clearer and less cluttered. There are other benefits to meditating that are well publicized and those are great. But what we hope and pray for you is that you become more aware of the loving presence of God in your life and that you begin to witness how He is transforming you through the power of the Holy Spirit by your meditation practice.

 

What if I don’t believe in God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

You are still welcome to meditate with us! As long as you seek peace and love in your life, we invite you to try our relaxed style of meditating and see if it helps you. If you are not comfortable with the idea of “praying”, just focus on the thought of deep unconditional love while meditating.

 

I actually DO Believe in God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. Now, meditation…. Isn’t that a Buddhist/Hindu/New Age thing?

Well, meditation is practiced by a lot of different religions and beliefs. Christianity has its own traditions of meditation.

In the book of Psalms of the Bible, meditation is simply following the command to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). And in Matthew 6:6 Jesus commands that, “when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Meditation is following this command and going into the deepest part of our selves to pray.

In this style of meditation, we listen to verses from Psalms and the Book of John and Gregorian chants and Christian Hymns that glorify God.

 

I’d like to start reading the Bible, do you have a recommended version?

The Jerusalem Bible. Why? It is a direct translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts and is known for its polished literary qualities. Note that there is also a New Jerusalem Bible and it is not the same as the Jerusalem Bible.

 

Meditation is making me realize I’m so impatient/(fill in negative qualities here)! How do I even begin to change?

Awareness is the first step in your journey of personal growth. That awareness is one of the first gifts that you are blessed with by the Holy Spirit when you meditate. Once you realize that there are things about you that you want to change, offer that up when you meditate. Ask God to send mercy and grace to transform you into a kinder, more loving, patient and compassionate child of His. And strive to bring that awareness with you as you go about your day.

 

When I meditate, I’m seeing colors/lights/visions/angels/demons/ghosts/other weird things! I’m freaking out! What’s going on?

Should you have any kind of weird experience during your meditation that you can’t explain, relax, you’re not crazy. It’s just that your spiritual senses are opening up and you are perceiving different realities beyond the third dimension where we normally exist. This is a legitimate part of a person’s spiritual journey, although it is not commonly discussed. Experiencing paranormal or weird things should not discourage you from meditating. You may need to learn some new things on how to understand and deal with these spiritual gifts. If you feel fearful, pray Psalm 91 and Psalm 23 and pray to Jesus for protection. Email us if you’d like to discuss your experience and get some insight from people who most likely have experienced something similar. Our email is info@societyforspiritualawakening.org.

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Email: info@societyforspiritualawakening.org
Phone: +632 879 4512
Fax: +632 879 4459
Address: 3rd Floor Cargohaus, Brgy. Vitalez, NAIA Complex, Paranaque City, 1700 Philippines