Welcome back to my Journey in Discipline! If you’re new here, or if you’d like a refresh on what I’ll be sharing with you in this blog, I would recommend going back and reading my first blog of the series here.
I also wanted to thank all of you for your support and enthusiasm for this challenge that I’m sharing with you. I didn’t expect many people to be interested in it, much less to want to join me in this journey, so thank you again! I hope you enjoy this update blog from my first month of practicing the spiritual disciplines.
The Discipline of Meditation
Since my goal here is not to teach you out of Celebration of Discipline, but to simply share my experience, I will briefly describe a few of the main points that stood out to me as I read. I would recommend that you read the book yourself to get the full picture if you’re interested in learning more about meditation, or any of the other topics I’ll cover in my blog posts throughout this year.
What is meditation? I feel like this is a vital question that needs to be answered before one can dive deeper into the practice of meditation. Here are a few points that Foster made that helped clear this question up for me:
- Meditation is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word (p.17)
- Christian meditation, which attempts to fill our minds with thoughts of God, is very different from Eastern meditation, which seeks to empty the mind (p.20-21)
- It’s simple (p.21) and relevant for all of us (p.22)
How do you meditate? The first thing that sticks out to me in this section of the chapter is that Foster says “It is impossible to learn how to meditate from a book. We learn to meditate by meditating.” (p.26)
With that being said, Foster lists four suggestions for us as readers to use to help us get started in our meditation journey:
- Meditation Upon Scripture – internalizing and personalizing a passage of Scripture (p.29-30)
- Re-Collection – being still and allowing our hearts and minds to be centered on God (p.30-31)
- Meditation Upon Creation – taking time to focus on the beauty in the world around us and seeing the creativity of our Creator (p.31)
- Meditation Upon the Current Times – looking at what is happening in the world around us and seeking “prophetic perspective” from God (p.31-32)
As much as I would like to say that this month went by perfectly, and I spent time in intentional meditation every day, that’s just not the case. My tendency in situations like this is to get really frustrated with myself which normally causes even more difficulty, because I’m trying to do things out of my own strength. But I am determined that this year will be different. I will have grace for myself because God has grace for me.
So that’s where I need to start again, from a place of grace. A place of knowing that I’m not doing this challenge to be able to share my successes with the world through this blog or to check something off an invisible list every month. I’m doing this simply to know God more, and in turn to look more like him. It’s that simple. The pressure is off.
So whether you’ve had a good month, or a bad month, or something in between, know that there’s grace for you today to start fresh and lean into your Father. He wants to know and be known by you above all else.
With that all being said, on the days that I did spend some intentional time in meditation, I really enjoyed it! It was sweet to take time to meditate on passages like Matthew 5:1-11 and imagine myself in that environment, seeing Jesus walk up the mountain and sit down, teaching his disciples. I loved to imagine these words that I’ve heard so many times, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3) coming directly from my Savior’s mouth.
I also took some time to practice the exercise that Foster describes on pages 30-31 called “palms down, palms up”. This is a simple way to center your mind on God by turning over any concerns you may have to him (while placing your palms down) and, in the place of those concerns, receiving what God would give you (while turning your palms to face up). The idea is that after engaging in this exercise, your mind can be still and you can much more easily center your thoughts on God. I would highly recommend this for any of you who, like myself, tend to get distracted easily by other things that may be going on in your life.
The beauty of this challenge is that it’s not a check list. What I mean is that we won’t cut off the practices from each chapter on the last day of the month, but instead we will continue to build upon them. I personally want this year to cause a shift in my lifestyle that will continue to grow and strengthen as long as I’m here on this earth.
So as we close out this first month of the year, and step into February, I will continue to practice the discipline of meditation (or try to at least) on a regular basis, in addition to practicing the discipline from the next chapter: prayer.
I would love to hear about how you’ve been doing this past month, whether you’ve been participating in this challenge or not. Have you learned anything new? If you’ve been practicing meditation, has it gone as you expected? Please comment below if you’d like to share your experiences. I’ll be back at the end of next month with an update on my experience practicing the discipline of prayer, but in the mean time I hope you have a wonderful February!