brian j plachta
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Meditation---a Game-Changer?
by brian j plachta on July 19th, 2019

Daily meditation has been proven to help:
  • Reduce depression, tiredness, and fatigue
  • Improve attention, emotion regulation, and mental flexibility
  • Grow your brain and improve information processing
Sound too good to be true?

Research provides strong evidence that meditation improves psychological and physiological well-being. It not only helps us think more clearly, but it also slows down brain activity, allowing our body to calm itself.

Wow! Meditation is a game-changer!

The Inner Experience of God

So, what about the spiritual components of meditation? How does meditation impact our relationship with God and our core selves?

According to Father Thomas Keating, meditation allows us to move beyond the mere intellectual understanding of God so we can deepen our individual relationship with him. Through regular meditation practice, we develop an “inner experience” of the Holy Spirit that then guides, affirms, and teaches us how to live with inner peace and wholeness.

Keating writes in his book, Open Mind, Open Heart:

“The chief thing that separates us from God is the thought that we are separated from Him. If we get rid of that thought, our troubles will be greatly reduced. We fail to believe that we are always with God and that He is part of every reality.

“The present moment, every object we see, our inmost nature are all rooted in Him. But we hesitate to believe this until our personal experience gives us confidence to believe in it. This involves the gradual development of intimacy with God [through meditation].”

Meditation Is Not Something We Do. It’s a Way of Being.

When Father Joachim Lally teaches contemplative prayer, he likes to stress "receptivity" instead of "activity." He says, people often believe that prayer is all about our efforts, rather than God's. But Psalm 46 tells us to, “Stop striving, and know God.”

Put another way, when we meditate, our “monkey-minds” often try to take control and think our way to God—or they get stuck focusing on whatever else pops into our heads. The result? Noisy chatter.

If, instead, we view meditation as creating sacred inner space for us to listen to God, then our job is to simply show up and let the Creator have his loving way with us. It’s not something we are “doing.”  It’s “being.” Being present to the moment. Being an empty wine skin so God can fill us with whatever we need for the day.

 Creating an Empty Container

So how do we empty ourselves? How do we avoid making meditation a “doing” instead of a “being”?

There is no right or wrong way to meditate.  It comes down to what works for you. Experimenting with different practices can be the nudge God uses to find what’s “just right” for you and him.

Since the mind can only think one thought at a time, many find it helpful to have a simple container to hold the practice of being still and quieting the chatter in our heads so we can listen to God’s whisper.

Here are ways you can try to still the wandering mind.

Sacred Sounds

Simply pay attention to the sounds in and around you as a way of focusing. 
  • The sound of your breathing becomes a holy sound as you recall every breath is the breath of God breathing in and through you since the moment of birth.
  • The ordinary sounds of birds chirping outside an open window become a sacred sound as you recognize you are part of nature’s chorus praising the Divine.
  • Even the sound of morning rush hour traffic outside your window can become a litany of praise as you ponder the blessing of work that allows you and others to earn daily bread.
Sacred Word
Another popular way of centering yourself during meditation is to ask God for a word or short phrase to hold in your heart.

Simple words like love, patience, trust, or courage often anchor our minds, connecting them to our hearts as they become a sacred word or phrase.

If you receive a word or phrase during your meditation, you might jot it down on a sticky note or posting it on your to-do list to bring you back throughout the day to this rich centering practice.
Sacred Body
The quickest way to quiet the mind, one mentor taught me, is to focus on the body.
  • Place your hand on your heart. Notice its gentle beat, its warmth, and how the blood pumps to every part of your body, creating a peaceful inner flow. 
  • Do a body scan starting from your head to your toes. Notice how each member of your body performs a unique act that allows you to function as a vital human. 
  • Focus on your breath. Feel the air wisp in and through your lungs with no effort on your part other than to receive the gift of oxygen from the Creator, letting it flow in and through you.
Find Your Feet

Place your feet flat on the floor. Notice the connection between them and the earth that lies underneath the room you are in.  Feel the sensations in your feet as they rest on the floor. Even better—go outside with bare feet and feel the cool grass or the sand at the beach. There’s something calming about touching the earth with your skin. It seems to connect us to our Creator, to our God.

As you move throughout the day, take a moment to “find your feet” as way of re-grounding yourself in the Presence of each moment.

Nature Speaks

Take a walk around your neighborhood or at a park. Notice God’s abundant creation. Pay attention to the flowers, the grass, the birds—and all the tiny critters who inhabit our space with us.

Let some part of nature “find you” as the Creator surprises you through the landscape of your heart.

Could Meditation be a Game-Changer for You?

The ancient practice of daily meditation has grown in popularity throughout the last decade thanks to the many men and women who have taught its vital importance in the Christian faith.  Some would say this resurgence in personal meditation practice is the work of the Holy Spirit calling us to take time each day to be alone with God, allowing the Whisper of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the pathway of Divine Love.

Could it be that simple?  Is daily meditation God’s game-changer for you and the Universe?

—brian j plachta

Check out Mark 1:35 to see how Jesus meditated:
“Before daybreak, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”

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