Why would anyone spend 20 minutes twice a day sitting quietly in a chair doing nothing? Is this a productive use of time?
The practice of meditation has been valued for centuries by wise and holy men and women around the world. Since the 1960's meditation practices have become more popular in the US—some surveys show that 50% of adults practice some form of meditation.
Why “waste” this much time? Ancient meditators sought God or peace or transcendence. Modern meditators seek stress reduction, improved health, clear and mindful thinking, or God. Or, maybe all of these things.
I encourage you to watch the 30 minute video by Daniel Coleman in which he succinctly describes what is currently known about the science of meditation. The benefits to physical and mental health and to brain development are astounding.
But, knowing these extraordinary benefits of meditation doesn’t necessarily motivate us to devote time to this practice—no more than learning all the benefits of exercise means we will start exercising. This was my personal experience. I was restless in my search for peace, but resisted the idea of meditation. I finally concluded that true peace could only come from God. So five years ago I started the practice of Centering Prayer, a type of Christian meditation.
My belief is that all meditation practitioners, regardless of their stated reasons for starting a meditation practice, receive a range of benefits. Those who started the practice to be closer to God and to find the peace of God within themselves will in addition receive the bonus of the health benefits. Those who began meditating to achieve better health or stress reduction will also find more internal peace and quiet that will facilitate their spiritual journey. We receive a richness of grace from the practice, far more than we can imagine.
1. Watch Goleman's video describing the science of meditation.
2 Check out this description of Centering Prayer, a Christian form of meditative prayer.
3. Try Centering Prayer or whatever type of meditation practice appeals to you. The hardest part of a meditation practice is to start---so just sit down and do it now, if only for five minutes.
God bless all of you.