Uh oh, there
I had an interesting conversation today. A Hindu friend asked if I meditate.
We have talked about various “religious” things before. For instance, she’s very impressed that I read my holy scriptures and even meet with others to study them. She doesn’t do that, though she has always been meaning to.
When she asked if I meditate, a few red flags were raised. The first flag is the topic of Christian meditation: do I even know what that means? Another flag is the difference between Christian meditation and eastern meditation. I thank the Holy Spirit for navigating me through the conversation: both flags were addressed.
When I meditate, I consider God, who He is, His nature and being, what He has done in the world, what He has done in my life, what He has done in the lives of those around me, His works past, present and even future, what God prefers and decrees, and what He has said. I consider, contemplate, focus my mind on.
She was surprised that I think so much in my mediation. She talked about chakra meditation which she said improves the functioning of “energy centers” in our body. I explained that when I meditate, I am more interested in focusing on God than improving my personal well-being. I think that gave her food for thought. Humorously, she was also surprised that I meditate on the bus. She needs total silence when meditating, but I explained that when I meditate, it’s a lot like working on a puzzle: I consider all the factors and turn them around. If the puzzle is sufficiently interesting, the rest of the busy world drops away. Again, the mind is focused.
I did some reading after the discussion. Wikipedia has a pretty good article on Christian meditation that describes pretty much what I outlined here. It also contrasts Christian meditation with eastern meditation, which confirmed my suspicions: “Unlike eastern meditations, most styles of Christian meditations do not rely on the repeated use of mantras, but are intended to stimulate thought and deepen meaning.”
I have no idea how often Christians meditate, but judging by how often it comes up in conversation (using the topic of prayer as a control), my guess is meditation is extremely rarely to non-existent. So the only type Christians are familiar with is the eastern type, and they are rightly on-guard with this, because there is little place for it in the Christian’s life, if no place. Yet examples of meditation are throughout the Bible. Isaac did it (Gen 24:63). David did it (Ps 19:14). God approves (Josh 1:8).
Perhaps Christians meditate but mistakenly call it “prayer.” Prayer is a conversation. Meditation is focused thinking.