My mentor, Dr. Payne, suggested that I start meditating. He mentioned it one day as he calmly observed me work myself into a lather over the usual career frustrations and corporate political struggles. He made it sound so easy and fun. And I said, “Well, yes, that might help calm me down.” But I was also secretly thinking to myself how meditating would make me sound extremely hard-core spiritual. You know, the way everyone thinks that Buddhists are so much more spiritual than Christians, just because they meditate? I imagined telling my friends and associates how I have started practicing meditation. “Sorry, John – can we make the breakfast meeting at 8:30 instead of 7:00? You see, I have a very strict discipline of meditating between 7 and 7:45.” “Oh…uh, sure,” John replies, suddenly feeling spiritually inferior, grasping in his pocket for his rosary beads as he begins to doubt the validity of his meager prayer life.
“Ok, so how do we get started?”
“Here’s how you do it,” Dr. Payne said. “You find a quiet place, sit in a chair, like this, close your eyes and think of a ‘God-word’, like Peace, Surrender, Glory, or something that stands out from your bible reading. Repeat that word over and over, and here’s the hard part: you can not let your mind stray to any other thoughts. Every time you have a thought other than the word you are thinking of, you must (in your mind) pick it up and place it in an imaginary river flowing away from your God-Word. Do this for about 25-30 minutes at a time, as many days as you can.”
“Ok,” said I. “I’ll give it a shot.”
I’ve never meditated like that before, although I do try to find a quiet place from time to time, first thing in the morning, to read a passage from the bible and possibly even to spend a few minutes praying. I like those quiet times. But praying is difficult because my mind tends to go all over the place, just like he said.
“Dear Jesus, Lord in heaven, thank you for this new day. I pray for my daughter today, that you would give her safe travels today as she leaves for that school ski trip, and that you would help her to be open to you and that you would help her to become a strong, fine, young Christian woman who remains chaste and doesn’t have sex until she gets married or at least for a very, very long time, and I hope she doesn’t make any mistakes- even though I of course have made mistakes, but doesn’t everyone? So why should I be so controlling over her? She’ll be OK. Oh my Gosh! Today is the meeting with the attorneys about the joint-venture! Oh Lord, I pray that it goes well! Please let it go well. Hmmm, I wonder if Jeff has printed out all those documents. Did I review everything? I hope Barker isn’t there. He’s such an idiot. Oops, sorry Lord! Um…what was I praying about? Oh yeah, the ski trip. I pray that she doesn’t get hurt and that you would protect her. I wonder what time it is? Geez, I better get going if I want to get Starbucks before work…”
Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s usually how it goes for me. There are just too many stray thoughts bumping around in my little head.
To be continued at Meditation for (Christian) Dummies – 2