Editorial: Priceless Meditation
Published: November 4, 2004
In his book “Slow Down: Five-Minute Meditations to De-stress Your Days,” Father Joseph Champlin wrote the following:
“Popular spiritual writer Father Henri Nouwen concluded that unless we have some time set aside for God and God alone each day, we will not be able to convert our unceasing thoughts to unceasing prayer or to transform our constant work into a constant awareness of God’s presence in our lives. The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen called those 60 uninterrupted minutes of prayer the hour that made his day. Protestant preacher and pastor David Wilkerson began praying late one night instead of watching a televised movie rerun and states that his life was never the same again.”
Meditation is priceless! In addition to balancing our life with God’s life, getting us off to a good day and making our evenings more restful, it is also the basis of prudence.
Outside the U.S. Supreme Court is a statue of a woman who looks as if she is sorrowful. In her one arm is a child holding a scale, in the other arm is the book of laws. But although her head is bowed, she is not sorrowful. She is meditating. The child, scale and book represent the justice upon which she is reflecting deeply. The lesson is that without meditation you cannot have prudent judgment and just law.
Meditation is priceless. Studies have found that people who practice meditation once or twice a day experience a measurable reduction in the extreme signs of stress, for example blood pressure, heartbeat and troublesome sleep patterns.
If meditation is so precious, why aren’t more people capitalizing on it?
One reason may be that it is seen as a religious thing, needing a religious setting. There may be the false idea that it can only be accomplished in a church or monastery setting.
It is true that churches and monasteries are excellent for putting us into the mood of meditation. But there are many other ways to get into this mood that are just as effective.–Take a walk outdoors, in the beauty of nature. –If you have a large back yard, find a quiet, inviting spot and make it your own special meditation spot. –If you have a quiet place in your home, use it.
More important than an inviting environment is our commitment to meditation. One reason we don’t value it more is that it is not high on our priority list. We feel there are more important things that call for our attention.
Meditation requires a conversion experience that turns our full attention to it and gives us a change of heart. To achieve this, I suggest that we take account of our lives and ask a simple question: Could our days be better, that is, less tense, more prudent, more balanced and more connected to God and life itself?
Take your time and be honest in answering this question. In pondering this question, you may well be taking a first step along the way into the world of meditation—a “place” you will rejoice to discover.