Do You Meditate? No, I Pray.
I was speaking with someone recently who was explaining to me how busy and stressed she was and that she was experiencing some health issues as a result of her ‘stressed’ life.
“Do you meditate?” I asked her. (Short Pause) “No..…I pray,” was her slow, cautious response.
Since my health crisis began nearly three years ago, I can say that I had never meditated. Never. I prayed a lot, all the time in fact, but had never meditated. The closest thing I think I ever got to meditating was when I used to take a yoga class and she went through an entire body relaxation at the end of the class. I felt so relaxed and de-stressed by the end of class, I wanted to just lay there for an hour.
When I got sick, one of the very first things I was taught by my adrenal expert doctor was what he called adrenal breathing. The goal was to do this breathing for five minutes every hour if I could. It calmed my body. I had to focus on my breath, which calmed and centered my brain and activated my parasympathetic nervous system - which is the system that pulls you out of that fight or flight sympathetic nervous system response. The breathing felt amazing, although it wasn't wasn't always easy to do. I quickly started incorporating it more and more into my healing until it has become almost a daily habit. At first I had to do it, now I want to do it.
Being a new-comer to meditation, and growing up in a community that is very religious, I know there is some hesitation or misunderstanding surrounding meditation. Myself included.
Some think it is a form of religious practice. Some hold the belief that if they meditate, that it will conflict with their own religious beliefs. Some think it's just some crazy woo woo that weird people do, breathing in and out and chanting things. After learning about it for a few years now, I’ve come to know and understand that the practice of meditating doesn't have anything to do with religious belief or doctrine and there is actually no woo woo about it.
Meditation, as I learned it, is simply a technique to calm
the brain and center the mind.
What's the big fuss about calming the brain and centering the mind? As the title of this post suggests, people often confuse meditation and religion and don't exactly know how they do or don't fit together. As I mentioned, I started meditating to help heal my body and calm my brain. My personal experience has been this....although meditation is not about religion, what’s been interesting is that meditation has actually enhanced my religious practice of prayer and communicating with God.
Meditation has actually helped my mind be even more open and receptive to receive inspiration and guidance from Spirit and God. It’s like the reception has been tuned in better on the radio station from heaven.
Just being in the space of silence and calmness I think allows for enhanced communication with God. That's really nothing new. It's just taking the time and making it a daily practice to calm the mind. When your brain can turn off the usual mind chatter, it can receive better. If you do choose to use it to enhance your religious practice, I’ve heard it described as prayer is your way of communicating with God, and meditation is calming the mind and allowing God to speak and communicate back with you, only in silence.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Quiet the mind. Be still.
In addition to the obvious benefit of a calmer mind and enhanced spiritual reception, there is so much to share about the benefits of meditation that I will dive into on other blog posts: from boosting your immune system, healing the body, increased work production and creativity, to pain relief, and even how meditation helps hyperactive kids. My own kids included.
I would encourage you to give it a try! Calming the mind is a good thing – and will only benefit you and those around you – and you might find that not only will it not interfere with your religious experiences, it might just enhance your religious experiences.
Good news! You can meditate AND pray!