In traditional meditation, we are usually advised to sit still, empty our minds, & just let knowledge (usually from some unknown source) come to us. This can tend to introduce more confusion into our minds & hearts as our guard is let down & we’re left to try to discern whatever it is that we are experiencing.
Meditation is a hot topic, but I encourage you to do your own research. There are just as many studies that show the negative aspects. We do not usually get into meditation because of how happy we are. When we engage in it, things can become worse.
Traditional meditation can release an overwhelming amount of emotion and trauma that has been buried due to the protective nature of our brains. If we are not properly equipped to handle the release it can have lasting consequences. These issues are compounded when mixed with personality disorders & depressive episodes, for example.
This type of meditation also suggests that focusing inward is the key to peace. This can lend itself to depression & even more anxiety as searching within ourselves is not the answer.
It’s true that there is benefit in sitting still & letting your mind rest. However, we need to have intention when doing so if the goal is stress relief & this doesn’t happen unless we are focused on truth- not just our own understanding & thoughts. Mental and emotional stress often has deeper roots that we need to address.
When I was still heavily involved in the new age mindset, I would study meditation, meditate, take meditation classes and was enrolled in a training program to become a meditation teacher. After doing more research, I realized that meditation was actually harmful to the soul in the long run.
We end up relying on our own strength to try and discern what “messages” we are getting. Often times, certain aspects of our mind are accessed that we have long since buried. This can be extremely overwhelming to process at the rate which memories and issues arise. It becomes like a Pandora’s Box situation. We see too much at once and we are left with almost an identity crisis and without a way to handle it effectively.
I have experienced this myself and it led me in a downward spiral of depression for a couple years. Issues arose that I was not capable of dealing with alongside a fast-paced lifestyle. I was so focused on finding my way on my own strength, and that crumbled quickly.
I do however fully agree with and encourage scriptural meditation which is based on life-giving truth. In “Satisfy Your Soul”, Dr. Bruce Demarest writes, "A quieted heart is our best preparation for this work of God. Scriptural meditation refocuses us from ourselves and from the world so that we reflect on God's Word, His nature, His abilities, and His works. So we prayerfully ponder, muse, and 'chew' the words of Scripture. The goal is simply to permit the Holy Spirit to activate the life-giving Word of God.”
Looking a little further we can see how traditional meditation is problematic.
1.) Meditation points to the self for answers.
One of the first lies in recorded history, can be traced back to Eden. The lie was that we could become like God, or gods ourselves. After believed, this created a break between the human race and Eden, or paradise.
Focus on self causes forms of depression.
There is a lie that is spreading in this culture that everything we need is within ourselves. We are so used to worshipping self, that we forget that we were created by a Creator who cares for us and is the only one who can sustain us. This is a life-changing discovery, and is far more life-giving than relying on your own strength for wisdom and peace.
Our insight alone will not get us far and leads us in the opposite direction of God’s will.
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” (Psalm 119:97-99)
2.) Meditation distances yourself from your conscience.
Distancing yourself or becoming a mere observer of your thoughts creates a disassociation and desensitization of our conscience.
Shutting down the Holy Spirit and just observing and silencing our conscience does nothing for our souls. We may feel a stillness of sorts, but not a true peace. The peace that passes all understanding comes only from the Holy Spirit.
When our conscience is dulled, anything goes.
This is a dangerous place to be. We need to be fully in tune with our conscience. Allowing the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts and minds produces a life lived to the fullest.
3.) Meditation lowers our defense system.
Our guard is down when we have “emptied our minds” as traditional meditation suggests we do.
Who is to say where our swirling thoughts are derived?
How will we deal with upsetting repressed memories that will arise?
We need to test all of our thoughts against the word of God. We also do not need to feel like we have no where to turn when we are faced with unresolved issues that surface.
God is our comfort and bears our sorrows with us.
It is said that you will gain insight and understanding if you just sit and remain quiet and reflect. I can attest to the fact that this is quite troubling, as any “insights” that have not come from God are not insights at all. We end up spinning our wheels trying to discern and decipher what our “revelations” mean when we allow them to come from our heart and not the heart of God.
“Those whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night, that person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:2-3)
4.) Meditation leaves room for any and all types of thoughts to be planted.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
An empty and unguarded mind can be filled with lies and anything has leeway during this time to enter our minds.
It's so beneficial to fill our minds with life and the word.
5.) Meditation creates a false sense of stress release.
Meditation is supposed to reduce stress. Stress, however, is not the root issue.
There is always something deeper that is causing our discomfort and we need the Holy Spirit in order to get to the root cause.
We also know that the testing of our faith produces patience. We do not need to manipulate our environment to create peace- we can call upon God for peace and understanding into why we are experiencing an unsettling.
“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143:5)
Transforming our mindset to think with gratitude is key.
Prayer is also extremely helpful when trying to align your mind with a grateful, intentional outlook. Praying allows you to tune in to the Holy Spirit.
Like any other relationship, communication with God is imperative. I love just speaking to God like a close friend. Praying does not have to be eloquent, complicated, thought out, or rigidly structured. Sometimes it can just be a calling out, other times it will look like a full conversation.
Once we picture our relationship with God as our companion and One who is with us through it all, we can lean into trust. Our relationships on earth can be a mess at times. No one is perfect and we do not need to come to God in perfection. He knows our souls so well. There is no need for pretense or perfectionism in order to “get” to him.
Gratefulness illuminates our minds and hearts and lifts the weight of negativity.
At any point in your day, get in the habit of thinking or saying out loud whatever you are grateful for in that moment. Soon it becomes a habit if you are mindful to practice this every day. Slowly you will begin to notice your disposition changing.
Starting your day with gratitude affects how your entire day will go!
Meditating on scripture is one of the best ways to renew our brain cells & hydrate our souls. Also, forms of mindfulness while you are moving & using your senses are beneficial.
To start my day, I love reading from Psalms. It’s equal parts poetic and encouraging. Feel free to start anywhere in the Bible! I enjoy starting in Psalms because instead of feeling that draining comparison feeling from social media, there is a sense of camaraderie with the Psalmists. I love how timeless the Psalms are in that some of the very same issues they dealt with, we also face nowadays.
Guided scriptural meditation is the perfect way to reset your internal dialogue. Instead of reading through scripture you can listen to encouragement! The word of God is living and active and there are benefits in both reading and listening.
If you jump over to the home page, you’ll find a link at the bottom of the page to some meditations I have done on the Psalms, Isaiah, & Job on the Insight Timer app.
I’d love for you to check them out and I hope they fill you with encouragement!