There is a common misconception that meditation (and often yoga,) are somehow 'Un-Christian' or not in line with Christian values, but nothing could be further from the truth. Meditation does have its origins in Vedic Hinduism, and has been adopted by Eastern religion such as Buddhism, as a religious component, but meditation has also become part of mainstream and Western culture.
What is Meditation?
There are many definitions of meditation which vary slightly from practice to practice and culture to culture. for the purposes of this blog, lets refer to it as the art of focusing your mind. Be that on clearing the mind or one on purpose or object.
Wikipedia states that Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to become aware of and reflect upon the revelations of God. The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditārī, which has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice.
There are many reasons why people meditate. This can include improving oneself or concentrating one's mind on your God in order to become closer to him spirituality. Other people practice physical yoga postures (asanas) to improve their health and achieve inner peace.
Meditation Across All Religions
In Christian traditions, several religious practices are actually considered to be meditations. Lots of these practices are monastic including the Holy Rosary and prayers that focus on Adoration or the Eucharist in Catholic Religion, known as hesychasm in Eastern Orthodoxy. These are similar to Eastern or Yogic meditations which concentrate on individual objects (such as candles, known as Trataka,) or on deities as in Buddhism, in order to embody the characteristics of that deity (e.g. compassion or strength of character.)
Christian meditations are usually in prayer forms. Some prayers used to contemplate the heavenly mysteries. Christina meditation still involves attaining an inner stillness while the physical senses are ignored or worked past to calm the mind and allow focus.
How is Meditation Practiced
Meditation is incorporated by Christians at special times of the year such as and including Christmas. Advent recollections in preparation of celebrating the birth of Jesus are also often conducted.
There are two ways in which meditation is generally practised, the unguided and guided meditation. A guided meditation is done with ongoing guidance throughout the meditation procedure. You can do this within a small group guided by a meditation practitioner, such as priest and lay ministers or use meditation DVDs or CDs.
Unguided meditations can also be done within a group, but no one speaks. The session is carried out in silence, sometimes accompanied by meditation music. Some sessions are done in isolated locations with a quiet, peaceful, and natural surrounding. Meditation music is the only sound that can be only heard. You can do unguided meditation alone also, after taking several sessions of a guided meditation.
Why Meditation is Beneficial for Everyone
There are several advantages of meditations. Besides it being an inward adventurous journey, it helps you get to know and understand yourself. It can increase your inner awareness to see the right path of life. The awareness you acheive during meditation can bring clarity, serenity, and bliss, harnessing and sensitizing the mind.
If you want to experience real transformation and inner nourishment, then meditation is a good choice for anyone. Meditation techniques are designed to help you transform your thoughts, yourself, and and enabling you to change those negative ideas into peaceful and positive thoughts. Meditation can help you manage stress and calm the mind and heart. It neutralizes negative emotions and helps the individual move towards bliss, no matter what their religion dictates that is. It can even make you live longer, because mediation creates a platform for a healthier lifestyle.
Christians of all ages (or anyone of any religion for that matter) can meditate. Learning this practice can help you improve your daily life and cope better with day to day challenges. It's not just for yogis or Buddhists, all humans can benefit from meditation. If we can all move towards obtaining inner peace, then this is the only thing that can ultimately lead to world peace, and surely this, is the true spirit of Christmas.