The world is full of bothersome noises, or maybe I just notice them more than others.
I have a short tolerance when it comes to noise. Repetitive beeps, clicks, sirens, alarms, grinding noises, or unpleasant music played at unpleasantly high levels all cut straight to my core. I get a feeling of overwhelming annoyance when I hear these sounds. Even my children barely have noise-making toys, poor kids. The annoying sounds cause stress to me. I find myself canceling these noises out as quickly as I can. A strong desire to escape from the noise comes upon me.
The need to escape or the use of a coping mechanism are strategies I use when disturbed by these sounds or the stresses of life. Coping can help relax and recenter ourselves and reframe the world around us. The term meditation comes to mind when contemplating methods of dealing with stress and bewilderment.
To meditate is to think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation. Meditation often gets a bad reputation for being synonymous with eastern religions, out-of-body experiences, clearing one’s mind, or even yoga. Meditation can simply mean taking time to separate yourself from the distractions in life, excluding chanting. Perhaps even bring the important aspects of life back in view.
Meditation can have many benefits for our well-being, emotionally and physically. According to the Mayo Clinic, mediation can help one to gain a new perspective on stressful situations, build skills to manage stress, increase self-awareness and help us focus on the present. They go on to say that anxiety, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, heart disease and sleep problems can all be better managed through meditation.
Some say mediation may be harmful and come from dark origins. Perhaps there is a way to take a break from the loud and distracting world and yet intentionally avoid the pitfalls of ‘modern’ meditation.
I pose this question: How did the patriarchs, noble kings, apostles and our Lord spend time separating themselves from this world? Giving themselves a break from this distracting world.
The Bible must have some advice for meditation. Let’s look at a few verses.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. This verse clearly states that the mediation of our heart should be acceptable to the Lord. So right away we know that we should be meditating in a way that God wants us to. Where some forms of meditation require us to clear our minds and accept whatever voices we hear, I say if those voices or acts of mediation contradict what scripture teaches us, then it’s time to stop. The only voice we should be listening to is the Holy Spirit guiding us every day.
“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Psalms 119:15. Here we see what we should be filling our minds with when meditating. “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Psalms 119:97. Clearly it is the law of the Lord and on His promises (Psalms 119:148). Selflessness, acts of charity and love should fill our minds when meditating. We could all benefit from focusing on the word of Jesus and His promises. There is where anxiety, stress and fear have no hold on us. Christ said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27. In Christ, all our hopes lie.
The Bible tells us that Jesus used to get away from everyone to pray and connect with His Father. Luke 6:12 says, “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Christ would separate Himself to not be distracted and to reconnect. His connection with God was so important to Him that He would forsake physical rest to restore and recenter Himself on His goal and His one true passion, serving His Father. When in doubt, do as Christ did.
Perhaps that is where the true benefits of meditation can take place. Instead of stretching exercises, repeating some mantra, or listening to relaxing music to meditate, we should be focusing ourselves on our Creator and Savior, as Christ did. No need to clear the mind for the adversary to creep in, but to fill our mind with the promises, the Law, and the love of Jesus.
This noisy and distracting world can be overwhelming quite easily. There is nothing wrong with taking time to separate from it when necessary. Even meditation has its place in the Christian life. Meditate if you feel like you need to get your life back into order. But make that order the order God would approve of. Keep Christ and His promises at the center of your meditation and He will direct your path.