Great news! You’re allowed to meditate while you meditate.
Yeah, I know, there are like millions of people who are trying really hard to completely clear their minds of all thought . And there are still other millions more trying to be OK with all the thoughts at once. The former strategy doesn’t really jive with this greatness:
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (From the Bible–the book of Joshua, Ch. 1, verse 8)
The latter strategy (although so cute! so cute!) kinda conflicts with my gut feeling that I do indeed need to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (book of 2 Corinthians 10:5).
I think I’ve become instead a little rogue meditator, taking to heart the advice of Selwyn Hughes:
Biblical meditation is not at all like transcendental meditation, in which the objective is to empty the mind of all rational thought and so allow it to dwell on whatever ideas just happen to enter it. On the contrary, biblical meditation is the process of allowing God’s Word to fill our minds so that, in time, it not only occupies our thoughts, but it also governs our every word and action.
In other words, I prefer to think about what I think about. Mull some scripture over in my brain; play spiritual catch with my maker–relaxing in the rote cadence of it, and also marveling at what he’s thrown back each time for me to ponder.
And then there’s the whole breathing thing. A friend from church recently shared this video with me and my husband, and I so love it; I bet you do too:
That we should be getting 99% of our energy from breathing, and yet access only 10-20% of it–that’s sad. I need to do better. I’ve read that when we are babies, we breathe properly. We just lay there in our cribs, our little baby bellies rising and falling. Then we grow up and begin to experience stress and that lovely “fight or flight” response, and we get into the habit of taking shallow “fight” breaths.
Want to try breathing correctly with me for a sec? OK!
Put your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your belly button. Take some quick-ish breaths. Probably you notice your right hand rising and falling. See if you can breathe so that your left/bellybutton hand moves outward noticeably. You really have to breathe in slowly and deeply and focus on pushing your hand out. I think it’s this book that suggests you imagine a balloon inside yourself. As you inhale, the big part of the balloon fills in your lower abdomen first, then fills more and more, going up, up, up into your throat then mouth…then exhale and begin pushing all the air out, beginning in your mouth and then back down to your abdomen.
It can all sound and feel so silly!! In an age of pharmaceuticals, it’s so hard to believe that something as simple as breathing could make any difference at all. But it does. It so does. Amazing the negative chain reactions that deep breathing can halt, and the positive ones it can start.
Maybe try it!