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“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra
During the hustle and bustle of life, between jobs and families, we often forget to take time to slow down and be in the present moment. Oftentimes people find their minds chattering away whether they want it to or not. To quiet this chatter, many people turn to meditation and prayer to gain focus, calm and clarity.
The word meditation can scare some people away. Meditation has many different meanings. It has been practiced as a part of numerous religious traditions throughout time including Bahá’í, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and others as well as in the secular world.
A common description of meditation is “to quiet or empty the mind.” Another description is simply “mindfulness,” which is a state of active attention on the present moment to observe your thoughts and feelings without passing judgment.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can ease many health issues including:
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “meditation may be practiced for many reasons, such as to increase calmness and physical relaxation, to improve psychological balance, to cope with illness, or to enhance overall health and well-being.”
Meditation Takes Patience and Determination
If you want the ability to quiet your mind during times of stress, you first need to be able to quiet your mind during periods of calm. This is a skill that must be practiced and developed over time. Prayer beads or other objects are often used during meditation to help focus attention.
Prayer and Meditation
Many people assume a distinction between prayer and meditation, but often these two things can go hand in hand. Meditation can be a particular method of prayer.
In the Catholic faith, many pray the Rosary. The Rosary beads and the repetition of recitation of the “Hail Mary” prayer help to keep focused attention of the observer. Often times one begins by speaking or whispering the words and after a few minutes they’ve moved to mouthing the words in silence. Soon after the words no longer become necessary because you’ve entered into oneness with God.
Whatever we call our communication with God, we all aim to experience oneness with Him.
- Bring to mind God’s presence: find a quiet location to diminish as many distractions as possible. This can be particularly helpful for beginners new to meditation.
- Ask for God’s help: it’s necessary to recognize that any benefits from meditation are God’s gift to us.
- Find a comfortable posture: meditation can be practiced sitting, lying down or in other postures.
- Focus your attention: this could be through a mantra (specifically chosen set of words or prayer), a visualization, an object (such as a rosary) or one’s breath.
- Open attitude to observe the mind and let distractions come and go without judging them. When you can turn off the chatter of your mind, you allow God to fill up that space instead.
- Give thanks to God for His help in your meditation practice and in your life.
How do you use prayer and meditation in your life?