“Meditation is a discipline and you will appreciate this for yourself as soon as you try it.” Laurence Freeman OSB
If you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself “How can I make the best of the Lenten season?”
The simple solution, according to Fr Laurence Freeman OSB, a Benedictine monk and the spiritual guide and Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation (wccm.org) is that persons commit more “generously and absolutely” to mediation twice-daily.
Meditation is an integral part of the Christian tradition of prayer. In this tradition it is called the ‘prayer of the heart’. This distinguishes it from either mental prayer of the external forms of worship with which many Christians have come to identify prayer.
In this way of meditation—praying in the heart, or what Jesus calls the ‘inner room’— “we are not speaking to God or thinking about God or asking God for things. Meditation is not what you think. We are being with God,” Fr Laurence said in his book Sensing God.
The early Christian monks, the desert fathers and mothers, said that meditation was the ‘laying aside of thoughts’. “This means good and bad thoughts, silly as well as wise ones. In meditation we are not trying to have good or better thoughts.”
If you get an “inspired solution” to a problem you are troubled by, “let it go” and it should be there when you finish your meditation (although by then it may not feel so inspired), Fr Laurence said.
In recent years, mindfulness training—a form of Buddhist practice adapted to the modern secular and scientific culture—has attracted much attention for the benefits it is claimed to bestow.
In his book, Fr Laurence said that while some scepticism is often raised at the scientific quality of these claims, clearly people practise it because it makes them feel better.
Archbishop Jason Gordon has openly endorsed the practice of meditating and its many benefits. In fact, the Archbishop of Port of Spain, in his visits to government secondary schools has been conducting exercises in Christian Meditation with students. In his visit to a group of Catholic students of the South East Port of Spain (SEPOS) School, he advised them that through meditation in the moments of silence, they can experience inner calm daily and the importance of spending some quiet time to converse with God daily.
How to meditate
Like everything new, meditation can seem strange at first. Allow time in your day to meditate and allow time to feel familiar with the experience. One day you will see how important meditation is to the quality of the meaning of your life.
Saying the mantra is the interior form of the discipline of meditation; sitting down to do it every day is the outer form Fr Laurence said. Early morning and early evening are the ideal times but persons have to adapt to circumstances. Aim at first to meditate for 20 minutes then gradually increase to 30 minutes.
In the morning
Try to mediate before you check emails or listen to the news. You can read an appropriate Lenten reading for the day after the meditation.
In the evening
Try not to leave the second meditation too late as you may find that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. You can also then re-read the daily reading from the morning. In this way your meditation practice will help you find a balance and stability in your daily life, whatever kind of day it has been.
—Written with information from Sensing God.