In some of my last posts, I’ve mentioned that I meditate and the importance of meditation many times. However, I’ve never given any specifics about it, nor did I mention how it entered my life and why I believe it is such fundamental practice.
I believe mediation to be ever more important in a world where we are continually solicited and where we are so easily distracted. I’m 41 years old and I only need to think of when I was 14 years old to see the difference. I mean, even waking up had little to immediately offer! I’d spend time in bed before actually getting up, but I did not have a smartphone to bombard me with external inputs.
Now, we are so accustomed to it that our alarm is often our smartphone. We then grab it to stop the alarm and we go on scrolling as an excuse to wake us up. Our brains are being fed with other people’s lives and problems or successes, we unconsciously fall into envy, self-doubt, worry, anxiety and stress … what a way to start our day!
Meditate for Your Mental Health
I notice the difference. When I grab my phone first thing in the morning, my day starts differently. It’s as if my wasting time on social media frustrates me and leaves me with a feeling of emptiness. My day then becomes a series of events which I tackle with little will or energy. All pauses and breaks become an excuse to scroll on my phone.
In other words, it’s as if my life were no longer mine to live. I give it away… I give it to worries or dreams… I hang on to the past and fear the future, but little are my efforts to make it better now, in the present moment. That’s where anxiety rules. That’s where unhappiness strikes! Exactly where we drop our power over our lives.
When, on the contrary, I wake up and resist the urge to look at my phone and decide to meditate first thing in the morning, everything becomes different. I’m not saying it’s magical! But even the simple phone resistance in the morning changes the mood of my day and that’s without even approaching meditation.
Adding meditation to my phone resistance, opens up another dimension and helps me start my day in ways I feel I have power over my life decisions, in ways in which I live the present moment and become present to things I’d usually miss out on.
Meditate to Go Deeper
I know that a lot of my readers come from a Christian background. Unfortunately, especially we Catholics have been used to prayer formulas. Although meditation has been an important part of our Christian inheritance, we often will prefer formulas to deeper sorts of prayers. Some will even fear meditation almost as if it has evil origins.
I’m not here to bash at formulas, I’m not here to tell you to stop the rosary or any other type of prayer. But I just want to remind you of the danger of falling into mechanic prayer and into a military form of a sense of accomplishment. You’ve said 1, 2, 3 rosaries … but did you really pray them? Formulas can help, but they can also keep you on the surface.
There are various ways to meditate, I’ll talk about it in my next post, but for now, I won’t focus on a specific way to meditate. Let’s just say that meditation generally obliges you to stop! It’s accepting to stand before God (or the universe, or call it what you want) and let the flow of thoughts and worries pass! You become the observer of it all.
At first meditation can be a real struggle. I’d suggest you start with little goals, like 5 minutes. As you sit, you will probably have a hard time quieting your thoughts just like a stormy ocean. Waves of thoughts, worries, things to do, etc., will come and hit your boat as you try to navigate to still waters. Perseverance is key! Stand there, not judging what is happening, not expecting anything … wait!
With time, you will discover new ways to navigate to safe and quiet places. With time, you will observe your worries, doubts, fears, and will be able to give them loving peace. With time, meditation will become regenerative. Breath your way in, give yourself time.
If you chose to meditate on Gospel passages, you will slowly gain new insight. If you chose to meditate on a book you are reading, you will gain a new understanding. If you chose to tackle a difficult situation you are living, you will gain a new perspective. Stay still.
Years ago, I read a book on the Hesychast prayer. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the title. It’s a hard-to-find book that I lent to a friend and he’s lost it. Anyhow, in this book, a young man went to see a monk on Mount Athos. These monks live way above the monasteries and are often hard to access and find. They live as hermits.
This young man wanted to learn the Hesychast prayer. As he finally found a monk, he begged him to teach him to pray. The monk told him to wait. He disappeared for hours and came back with a rusted can full of water to offer the young man who had climbed his way to him. This young man said that the love and smile of this hermit was his first true lesson and he later realized the monk had to walk for hours to get the water.
Well, when he got to the teaching part, he asked the young man to stand silently in front of the immense rock mountains. After a while, the young man said, “I did… I succeeded in finding silence within.” The monk answered, “Now become the mountains!” He continued doing the same in front of the water and the plants, etc. Only once the young man could meditate did he start teaching him the Hesychast prayer which is a simple and repeated formula.
Meditate to See Clearer
The road to real prayer can be arduous and discouraging. But it is a road of deepening, it is a road that you will find outside formulas and obligations. It’s setting everything aside to “waste” time silently.
I can assert, without the shadow of a doubt, that my relationship with God and with others started changing positively when I discovered and integrated meditation in my daily routine. I was a prisoner of fear. I thought I believed, I thought I was a good Catholic, I believed I was a good priest … but in reality, I was dominated by fear and this same fear dictated my behaviour.
I did not pray out of love, I prayed out of fear of not accomplishing my duties. I did not help others out of love, but out of fear of them thinking I wasn’t committed. I did not believe out of conviction, but out of fear that not believing would lead me to hell.
Meditation game me the insight at to what really motivated me. It gave me insight into my negative patterns, into my daily struggles and into my life battles. Meditation helped me see clearer and gain new tools to face life with renewed energy.
So yeah! I hope you become the mountains and the sea. I’m still working on it!
A little announcement! For those who subscribed to my blog, I will come back to one newsletter a week instead of two.
The reason is simple, I’m working hard on monetizing my blog and need to post some other content as well. The latter content is not necessarily relevant to all my readers. So, once a week, I will post what I believe you subscribed for.
If any of you wants to help me on my journey, you can find a donate link on my page (bottom of the page on mobile and right of the screen on desktop) and all donations are a help for me to continue my writing. Another way to help is to share my posts and blogs with others. All help is more than appreciated.
Thank you for caring! See you next week!