Here it is on Tues, two weeks after the last installation of our meditation series. Life has been… busy. Balance hasn’t been my theme for the past two weeks. So, even though this blog post is technically “late” it may actually be quite timely. Why? Because Metta and Christian meditation is exactly what I’ve needed to get through the stress.
First, let’s talk about Metta meditation and then jump into how it relates to the meditation discussed in Judeo Christian scriptures.
What is Metta Meditation?
Simply put, Metta meditation is the practice of first feeling loving kindness towards yourself while being still and then extending that feeling to all other beings. Metta meditation is also referred to as Loving Kindness meditation. This is done by repeating a simple phrase while relaxed and connecting the emotions of the phrase to first yourself and then others.
My favorite phrases:
“I am loved”
“I am at Peace”
“I am Healthy”
Once you have repeated the phrase for a while in a meditative attitude and you begin to feel that emotion in fullness the next phase begins. You simply think of your family, friends, community, and eventually all beings and replace the “I” with “you”. By the way – all beings – includes the people you don’t particularly like or agree with. Imagine our political scene if our leaders focused their attention daily on their rivals and took time to feel love and compassion for each other. Beyond the power to change our world here is an article from Psychology Today about more personal benefits of the practice. I also find that it doesn’t have the negative effects for some people that mindfulness creates.
What does this have to do with Christian meditation?
I am friends with several Amish Mennonite women. I learned quite a bit from them about Christian meditation. I know meditation has gotten a bad rap in the fundamentalist sect, but I don’t know of any other group that tries harder to live exactly according to Christian scriptures than my horse and buggy friends. What I’m describing is how these women meditate. The reason I’ve included it along side Metta meditation is that there is a similarity, which I find interesting.
Each week or month my friends pick a single scripture, typically one that is inspirational or uplifting, or a single aspect of God such as love, kindness, goodness, healing, etc. These ladies are up at three and four in the morning while the house is still quiet to pray, read scriptures, and yes, to meditate on their scriptures. They each have a different order. However, the actual meditation practice they’ve each described is the same.
They sit in the still hours of the morning and silently repeat the short scripture or phrase to themselves. A phrase such as “God is love” is repeated while thinking about that in relationship to themselves, then their husband, children, church, and greater community/humanity. They allow that feeling of love and thought to get down deep into themselves. They hold the same idea for twenty eight to thirty one days. They allow it to change their thinking, their feelings, and ultimately their actions. These women know love, grace, compassion, and gentleness. I think their morning practice of scriptural meditation is part of their timeless character.
I asked some of my friends what they think about the trend in some Christian groups to condemn meditation. I got a few chuckles followed by very serious faces. Every one of these ladies had the same answer, “God said to meditate on the scriptures. Who am I to disobey?”. I also learned that interesting fact that mediation is mention in scriptures twenty three times in a positive light only.
While I may not fully agree with these ladies in all aspect of religion, I do have an intense respect for them and for their beliefs. They have a palpable and honest faith that comes directly from living their convictions without agenda or guile. I’ve heard stories about overcoming anger, frustration, lack of forgiveness, and self pity through this simple practice.
I see Christian meditation and Metta meditation as being very similar. They both focus on love, kindness, peace, joy, and generally positive aspect of being alive. They both begin by changing our feelings towards ourselves and then extending that feeling to the rest of humanity.
To me, this is universal meditation at the core. This concept, with or without a particular religion, has the capacity to create true change in our world for the better. The choice to include or exclude the Divine from daily practice is a personal choice. I believe that all meditation is a spiritual exercise, but I know that is not a universal opinion. However, after practicing both I find them both to be incredibly beneficial.
I wrote this in my journal this week after meditating on Genesis 1:2. I leave you with this thought:
In the Stillness
Ends the Void
Be Well and At Peace,
Other articles in the Meditation Series: