It’s Easter, and I could find no better time to address a question I've been asked many times over the years: Are Christians allowed to meditate?
In fact, I've been asked this so often that I've decided I need to go beyond my pat answer of, What do you think Jesus did for 40 days while fasting in the desert?
Before I do, though, a quick sidenote: I am not a religious scholar. Nor am I a student of the Bible. I have read it, but I don't profess to be an expert on religion.
What I do know, though, is that Jesus preached a message of love for everyone. As did the Buddha. So, whether you call it prayer or meditation (and yes I know that those are two different things), as long as you do it with love, I'm pretty sure you're alright regardless of what God you pray to.
I've been told on occasion that meditation is not a Christian act. To me meditation is neither Christian nor un-Christian. It simply is. It's an act that takes on whatever intent you've given to it. To say meditation is not Christian, well .... that's like saying singing is not Christian. It all depends on the words that you sing.
Being mindful is pretty sin-free. I also know that acting with loving kindness and with compassion is pretty much okay across the board. I am also sure that all three of these ideas are concepts that Jesus Christ approved of.
So this Easter, sit, be quiet, and meditate on anything you want. Be it to quiet your mind, or to contemplate life on a higher plane, breathe deep and quiet that voice in the back of your head. Lower your stress and open your spirit to the Universe that is all around. Just do it with love and acceptance and equanimity, and I am sure Jesus would smile.
That said, if you're looking for something more tangible than my own feelings of acceptance, I point to two verses in the Bible and a Psalm that discuss meditation:
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (Timothy 4:15)
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room and close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask. (Matthew 6: 5-8)
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)
Now, scholars can argue ad infinitum about the semantics and meanings behind the word “meditation” in these verses. But there it is for all to see. For my sake, I read the passage from Matthew and can’t help but think that Jesus is teaching us that what he calls prayer is personal, that it is an act of solitude, and it is best done in silence. All things that sound an awful lot of what I do when I sit and breathe and yes, meditate.
For those who say Jesus was simply praying to God, then I say:
The kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (Corinthians 3:16)
So if for some reason you find yourself finding resistance in your meditation this Easter, simply smile and know that their mind was already closed before it had a chance to open. After all, you are free to meditate on anything you wish. Yes, even Jesus Christ. I leave that choice up to you. Simply do it with Love and do it regularly. At least I’m pretty sure that is what Jesus would say.
After all, as we know from Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.