During this past year, I have discovered the great benefits of daily meditation. As I talked about in my article about running, I started to run and meditate to deal with anxiety I was experiencing.
I know different ideas come to mind when people here the word “meditation.” In my opinion, everyone should spend 5-10 minutes a day practicing meditation. But I’m also aware that in many American Christian circles, there is some fear and misunderstanding. Reading scripture and praying are encouraged. But mediation is something to be weary of.
It seems a little crazy to me that a practice that is good for your health, and that can incorporate your faith, is questioned, discouraged, and met with fear and trepidation. Maybe you’re one of those people a little suspect of meditation.
I’ll also aware that for many, meditation is a little intimidating. Sitting down and being quiet for even five minutes is challenging in today’s society and pace. But it is well worth the effort and discipline.
My goal in sharing how I approach meditation is to make the practice seem less daunting, and to show you that it can be compatible with the Christian faith. Meditation can look different for everyone.
Setting Up For Success
I would suggest starting with a small increment of time. Maybe only a minute or two in the beginning. When I started to meditate, I would set a timer for 3 minutes on my phone. Then I moved it up to 5. Then up to 10 minutes. I spend an average of 10-15 minutes per day meditating. But there are days when it’s closer to 30 minutes. But there are also days when it’s a struggle just getting through 5 minutes. Some people prefer several smaller sessions of meditation throughout the day.
It can also be helpful to find (or create) a setting that is free of distractions (or at least limited). When inside, I prefer dim lighting and ambient music. Sometimes I like to diffuse lavender essential oils or light a small candle. The main point is that you want to create a space where you can quiet your mind.
As meditation is a daily habit, or lifestyle practice, making it a part of your daily routine is important. Identify certain times of the day when you can meditate. Sometimes I’ll mediate over my lunch break, either in my office, or a cool little pocket park I found in downtown Carlisle. I also like to meditate after we put the kids to bed. These times of day are the most distraction free, and are also good times to help me decompress. Which is a major reason I practice meditation.
The Meditation Routine
There are many options for the content of your meditation practice. As you consider your goals for meditation, I think you’ll develop a routine that helps you meet those goals. I meditate primarily to deal with anxiety and stress. My goal is to be more at peace when I finish meditating than before I started. I also believe God can provide that peace, so I incorporate my faith into the practice.
I like to start my meditation with 6-12 deep breaths. I usually count these in my head in groups of three. It’s just easier than counting all the way to 10. Sometimes during these breaths, I’ll remind myself to let the stressful, anxious, worrisome thoughts to leave my mind. After the breaths, I may spend some time in prayer. Or I may think through a stressful situation, working to ease the stress out of it. I usually say a modified version of the Lord’s Prayer. I use a mix of modern and personal language (i.e., “My father who reigns in heaven”).
Since starting my meditation practice, I’ve noticed there are three things I repeat to myself. They seem related to themes of contentment, patience, and trust.
You don’t have to worry about things that could or may occur. God will provide for you in those situations, just as He has in the past.
You don’t have to fret about all the tasks/projects you have to do. Just take things one step at a time. Focus on making small, daily progress.
You don’t have to compare yourself to others. Some people are better at fixing things around the house or their cars than you. Some people have a nicer house than you. Some people make more money than you. Some people are further along in their career than you. That is okay. Learn to thrive in being content with your situation.
I think meditation is a wonderful daily practice to commit to. It really does help you feel better. And even 5-10 minutes per day can make a difference. I want to encourage you to try meditation this week. Even if only for 3 minutes.