Why I meditate

I have been practicing meditation more consistently this year than ever before. There are of course many kinds of meditation, including “meditating on the Word,” but the form I have been practicing is quite simple. It could be summarized as “sitting.” Of course there are many things you could do while sitting, but the practice and the challenge is to be—that is, be more and do less. When I enter into meditation, my intention is to yield my whole self to God. What does that mean? Specifically, I am abandoning myself, letting myself go, allowing everything that bubbles up in my experience—thoughts, feelings, sensations, but doing my best not to engage any of them. When we engage a thought or a feeling, it is almost as if we become that thought or feeling. We get “carried away” and merge with the movement that is happening. This is a remarkable ability we have—to get in the zone, in the flow of experience, solving problems, inventing new creations, exploring other worlds, all within the space of our minds. But in meditation, the practice is, for a time, to not do those things. Instead, we just observe. We let experiences rise and fall, come and go, not identifying with any of them. It’s a practice of radical awareness, of continually stepping back, repeatedly recognizing that “that’s not me, that’s not me”… And if we find ourselves thinking “that’s not me,” we recognize that that’s not us either and let go of the thought process, recognizing it for what it is—a process playing itself out. Thus, although my intention is to abandon myself, what I’m really doing is abandoning all the things I tend to mistake for myself—especially my thoughts. When I become aware of something (such as a thought), I can no longer identify with it. A detaching has occurred, and who I take myself to be has just been both uprooted and expanded.

That all may be very interesting, but what’s my goal in meditating? If I had to choose one primary goal (as there are many benefits), it would be this: making room for God’s Spirit to dwell within me. What does that mean? To me, it means taking time to do nothing but get out of my own way. That this would be beneficial is predicated on my faith that there is a Higher Power and Intelligence that created and continues to animate all of nature, including me. To meditate then is to consciously yield my will to God’s will, trusting that God is always present and active. If I did not have this faith and this trust, meditation would be a pretty scary prospect. “You mean you want me to abandon my mind and let go? Stop holding myself together? How do I know I won’t fall apart? How do I know I won’t lose myself for good?” The truth is that I have no way of proving this other than to say it hasn’t happened yet! On the contrary, when I am consistently practicing my meditation routine, life seems to go more easily, inspiration seems more accessible, and on the whole I feel healthier. Those are some nice benefits. But again my primary intention is to make myself available to God—wholeheartedly and unreservedly, not even mediating God’s access to me with my mind, which means I don’t even know what God’s doing with me. Hopefully God can be trusted! That indeed is my hope.