We all have that “inner narrator” in our head that starts blabbing the second we wake up to the minute we go to bed. Your inner narrator may even, as you read this, be going on about how you need to be doing this and that and not reading a blog post about meditation, because meditation is a bunch of hoo-ha.
Now, when we talk about an inner narrator, we are not talking about “hearing voices,” we mean simply that boring commentator that keeps a running, judgmental monologue going in your head from sun up to sundown. For most of us that voice is a total jerk who seems to want only our discouragement, discontentment, and distraction. Are we destined to just deal with this surly pontificator for entire life? We don’t think so and we think meditation may be a key in wrangling this unhelpful copilot.
Meditation exists to help strengthen the part of the mind that keeps that voice from commanding too much mental real estate, thus freeing you to be happier, more focused and even allowing you spend more time loving God and people uninterrupted.
Over the next three weeks we want to be able to answer these questions towards the goal of making you the most informed you can be about the topic of meditation. This week we simply want to define what the practice is.
We will be the first to admit: the idea of meditation has a lot of strange and conflicting connotations surrounding it. At once images of cross-legged, floating gurus who have reached a mystical level of enlightenment enter into our minds. Also for those who have spent any time reading their Bible, we recognize that its authors filled the Scriptures with mentions of the practice of meditation. So, which is which? Are they the same thing? First we need to define what meditation it:
This practice can be as simple as focusing on your breathing for five minutes and as complex as attempting to calm the each muscle group in your body over a time frame like 30 minutes or an hour.
The skill of calmly focusing without giving into distraction for even a very short amount of time is challenging to many. Some good news is that this inability is normal. A lack of this skill is typical as the normative and encouraged stance when living life and working in our culture is to be able to multitask and jump from thing to thing without pause. If you’ve ever used email communication as key part of your job you know how enticing and easy it is to lose focus on the task at hand and to look at who just emailed you.
Now, meditation is not a cure-all. Some people and groups will talk about meditation like it is a miracle-working practice that heal everything from extreme mental pathology to cancer. A healthy level of skepticism is important here as the old maxim has it: “A cure-all cures nothing.”
Now that we have simply define the practice of meditation we will move on next week comparing the practice to the biblical idea of meditation and see if the two can co-exist or even complement each other.