Hi Friends, Welcome to a new podcast, Christian Meditation with Anita. This is the first episode.
Over the last four years, meditation has begun to change my life.
A session of meditation before I write calms and focuses my mind and helps me gather my thoughts. It is the most effective way I know to help me settle down and focus.
It is a solution to the turbulence of life. Get very quiet, retreat into yourself, and be alone with your breath and the God who made you.
Meditation calms and rewires the nervous system. It has made me quieter, less reactive, more aware of what I am feeling, and more perceptive of unspoken currents of human interaction, and what other people might be feeling. And as you begin to slow down, to quieten down in the deep heart’s core, over time, you become more able to choose your responses wisely, and kindly.
With its focus on the breath, meditation helps you switch your attention off the hamster wheel of annoying repetitive mosquito thoughts to something else, pretty much at will.
I recently started meditating seriously again, after developing sciatica due to over-exercising on our family holiday in December. The pain can scream for attention, feel excruciating, all-enveloping, and then, after a few minutes of meditation, it begins to subside and, as I switch my focus to my breath and the meditation tape, my whole body relaxes and the pain becomes imperceptible, fades.
So, let’s do some meditation. Let’s give ourselves the gift, the luxury of getting very quiet, of retreating within ourselves to relax, and be with the God who made us.
Close your eyes, sit straight, or cross-legged if that’s comfortable for you, and begin to breathe. A deep breath in. And out. Breathe in deeply. Breathe out fully. A deep breath in. And out. Twice more.
When Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples as a gift, an inheritance, he breathed on them.
As you relax your body, picture a golden wave of the love of God coursing through it, relaxing it.
If you feel tension in your shoulders, raise them up to your ears, slowly roll them, clockwise, anticlockwise. Repeat.
There is a direct connection between our hips and our emotions, I’ve read. Stressful thoughts, stressful interactions, unresolved bubbling emotions can trigger the pain of sciatica. Send your breath towards your hips. Breathe in, breathe out.
Let the breath travel to your toes. Clench them, wriggle them, relax. Breathe.
Meditation, focus on the breath, is a tool for calming down right in your body. It teaches us mindfulness, a current buzz word.
But what are we mindful of?
We are mindful of the presence of the God. We are mindful that we are living in a holy experience. We remember that life is a gift given to us by God, and it is short. We must savour it with gratitude.
So anything that will enhance the joy with which we live life, anything that will enhance the gratitude and wonder with which we go through our holy experience, is a blessing. And the first way we begin to appreciate the gift of our lives is by slowing down.
Breathe in to the count of five; breathe out. Take another four deep breaths.
Christian mindfulness is awareness of a presence with us, always with us, the triune God, Father, Son, Spirit. There is another in the room, a source of wisdom in the room, a source of guidance. You walk into a room; they walk in with you, and are already there. Waiting. Father, Son, Spirit.
We are mindful of the Father’s presence with us, right now.
The Father, into whose lap we can climb into with our needs, our wants, and our questions. If this image resonates with you, visualise yourself climbing into the arms of the Everlasting Father, the Ancient of Days, and whispering your worry to him. Ask him for wisdom.
At some time in your life, you may, in God’s mercy, hit a brick wall. You may know all the good things to do, but struggle to do them. You may struggle with weight loss perhaps, or organised housekeeping, with developing a habit of exercise, with waking early to hang out with God, or with doing disciplined creative work. There may be things you may need to change in your character, a crabby temper, say, which you struggle to change. And you find that you simply do not have the power within yourself to make these changes. And then, all the Christian cliches you’ve heard, Let go and let God make sense.
In the quietness of this moment, ask God to begin to make those internal changes in the molecules of your soul; ask God to do that thing in you which you cannot do yourself.
We are mindful that wherever we are, there is always another presence, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God. Our Lord and our God. He walks beside us as he walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Mindfulness is taking a moment to worship him, seated on the throne.
To trust Jesus means to take him seriously enough to do what he tells us to do. What is one thing you sense Christ asking you to do, or one change he is asking you to make? Ask him for help to do it.
We are mindful of the presence of the Spirit with us, who descended in the New Testament as a peaceful dove, and as tongues of fire. Who is our Counsellor and Comforter. Jesus promised that those who ask for the Spirit will receive him, and that the Spirit will teach us all things. What is the one thing you want the Spirit to teach you?
And that is our meditation for the day. God is with you. You are surrounded by his presence, Father, Son, Spirit. Go today, amid the day’s inevitable ups and downs, remaining aware that the powerful Lord God sits on his throne, in control, and is sovereign over the ebbs and flow of your life, its successes and apparent failures. There is one with you, walking beside you, the Lord Jesus Christ, who calls his disciples his friends. And you have the best teacher, the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor and Comforter, who on your request, will descend on you like a dove, and increasingly fill you. Ask him to bless and anoint you for the work which God has called you to do.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
May the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.