When asked the question ‘how are you?’ how often do you respond with the answer ‘busy’? Or if you’re not busy but the other person is flat out, you might even feel a little guilty, like you’re over indulging. This ridiculous worshiping of being ‘busy’ ticks me off (particularly because I’m often the one falling into its trap). Accordingly, the notable rise in popularity of meditation excites me because it has been proven to increase ones mental clarity and offer stillness amongst the chaos we choose make our lives. What does concern me though is the long term goal and purpose of meditation. The ones that you might not consider in a yoga class or when listening to a meditation tape. So today I want to explore which goals are spiritually healthy for us, along with some practical tips and tools to help you meditate. One of those tools is Meditations colouring in book by Lorien Atwood. I also have one to GIVEAWAY, so read on if you need more peace & quiet time in your life!
What is meditation?
The Oxford Dictionary defines meditation as the action or practice of meditating. Meditating is defined as to ‘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‘ or to ‘think deeply about something’. If anyone has tried to meditate before, you’ll know that it is actually quite difficult (without practice) to focus on one topic.
What I find interesting though is that meditation is not merely a buddhist practice. In fact God, speaks of its value numerous times in the Bible but it is clearly displayed in Psalm 1, where it says: “Blessed is the one …whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night”. Firstly, what does blessed actually mean? In this context it is the two-syllable pronunciation of blessed (bless-id), which is often translated as happy because that is the closest we have in English language, but it actually means something far deeper, to have complete fulfilment in every dimension of your being (also known as ‘shalom’). So the God who is true to his promises, is offering us a pretty BIG promise if we look forward to and delight in meditating (thinking, dwelling and focusing) on his scripture.
My experience meditating on scripture via colouring in
I’ve loved focusing on scripture by colouring in Lorien’s artwork. Often, when I begin, I won’t know (or realise) what it is the verse really talks about. But after chewing it over for hours whilst colouring by thinking, reading the verses around it for context and praying God will reveal to me the truth in the verse; my knowledge of God and the best way to live has grown and my heart becomes far more content.
For instance, with the above colouring in picture, I realised that the verse (Jeremiah 17:7-8) means the person who trusts in the Lord will have complete fulfilment in his being (that is the meaning of ‘blessed’, as discussed earlier); despite still being subject to the seasons of life (like a tree in nature is). The person will be sustained through the winter if their trust and confidence is in the Lord (like the tree that seeks the water of the stream during the difficult times). The best thing is that like a tree moving from winter to spring, God says that we will have the hope of good things to come, as our character is refined in the difficult times and our mind stripped back of the old foliage to make room for the new blossoms of spring. My heart is joyous pondering on this revelation that came from meditating on just ONE of God’s many truths and I feel as though it is building me stronger for future difficulties. God’s water is feeding my soul and keeping my being content and fulfilled.
Consider your content & goal in meditation
Why the goal of your meditation matters
The goal of your meditation is what is going to determine whether meditation is helpful for you in the long term. With practice, anyone can stop and rest, detach from their thoughts and focus on their breathing and sensory engagements. But if you want to increase your peace outside of that mediation practice, then it is essential that you use the right content to assist you to build your character and resilience.
What sort of content should I focus on?
Buddhism uses mediation to attain a state of nirvana, a transcendent state without desire or a sense of self. To attain nothing, shed yourself of all desire and deny your own personality and individualism in the cosmos. The idea is to get rid of all thought from your mind and to centre in upon yourself so you are no longer conscious of your own desires or any aspects of truth.
New Age Meditation says…
Whilst New age meditation is deeply rooted in buddhism, it has a more primal therapeduic element to it escaping us from the realities of life for a few moments of zen. It’s prime goal really is to connect with your ‘inner self’ and regain orientation to how you are feeling and how to be guided in the next steps of your day/week/life. In contrast to buddishm, new age spiritual mediation sees a greater emphasis on connecting with the self as a physical being uniting soul, mind, personality, and character. It’s more awareness of self rather than drifting from it.
Moving one step further is the Chrsitian view of mediation which has us neither denying our desires, or focusing on self, but rather meditation on an external source. Focus on the content of one of God’s truths as found in his word (‘the law of the Lord’ as mentioned in Psalm 1, referenced above), or the person of Jesus Christ and the fresh identity you have in him. Rather than focusing on the content of nothingness you are filling the attention of your mind with those noble, beautiful, precious truths. This then allows them to become big and vast in your life, so as to be an anchor of hope and peace – in a life where you do have desires, a personality and a life that is connected to feelings which cannot be shed of forever. God says focus your meditation on these freeing truths and I will take captive all anxiety, worry or concern. Meditating as God says, is training you to be able to develop a character which will strengthen you in everyday life. An example of this strengthening is my own experience of meditating on scripture as mentioned above.
Colouring in, a tool for mediation
You might remember a while ago I told you the new wellbeing craze was colouring in and I gave you a heap of free colouring printables? Not long after that this awesome book that combines the tool of colouring for relaxation and meditation on scripture was released by Lorien Atwood. You can purchase her book (and other cool items like PDFs, cards and bookmarks) here, or enter below to win a copy of the book!
Win a copy of ‘Mediations’ colouring in book! –Sorry, this competition has now closed. Congratulations to Jo B!
Just tell me in the comments at the bottom of this page, had you previously considered the goal/content of your meditation? If not, what do you consider to be a healthy goal to build you up spiritually?
Competition closes midnight on Wednesday 4 November 2015. Winners announced via EPW Facebook page and on this post.