I began meditating regularly around the beginning of 2019. It’s hard to believe that I’ve kept at it for over four years. I’ve written about my meditation experience in the past, which you can read about it in these prior posts if you’re interested:
- On meditation – my initial impressions after a few months of meditating
- 10 things I learned from a year of meditation
- Starting a meditation practice – my advice on how to get started, if you’re interested
Just because I’ve meditated for four years doesn’t make me an expert on the subject, nor do I profess to be one. However, I have learned a lot through the practice, both about myself, and the connection between meditation and faith.
To begin, the most important thing I’ve learned about meditation is that there is no right way There isn’t an answer you expect to find or some state of enlightenment or nirvana that you achieve. You don’t achieve a goal or reach a destination. The point of meditation is the experience. The reward is the journey. It’s learning how to be aware of your thoughts and feelings so you can learn how to be at peace with them, to embrace them, to experience them, and to let them go.
What I’ve also learned is that there is a strong connection between meditation and faith. Meditation could be considered a form of prayer, but I prefer to keep these practices separate. Meditation is training in awareness whereas prayer is introspection and strengthening your connection with your spiritual being. Mediation and faith is the thread that connects our mind and our spirit, as well as our body. Consistently practicing your faith and mediation maintains the connections and strengthens them.
Meditating regularly has helped me to develop a stronger awareness and clarity of mind, be more aware of my feelings and emotions, be more present, find happiness and contentment with my current circumstances, and feel more connected with the people and environment around me. These are the same character traits that faith teaches. Faith and spiritual growth, acquired through daily devotional readings, studying The Bible, and prayer, has reinforced what I’ve discovered through meditation. It’s made me aware that what I am learning are not new concepts. The concepts I’ve learned through meditation and faith have been around for thousands of years. It’s how we were made and meant to be.
However, in our modern, media driven society, we are pushed away from these ideals because they make us strive towards an image of perfection that is not possible. It causes us to be jealous, envious, and unduly harsh on ourselves, which we then act out and project onto those around us. When we are not our peace with our self and with our current circumstances, then we are unable to be at peace with the people and world around us.
What it’s also made me aware of is that there is a force and being in the universe that is more powerful than me, and collectively us, that I don’t completely understand and can’t necessarily comprehend in terms of power, which is OK. It gives me comfort and allows me to accept circumstances for what they are, knowing that there is something, or someone, more powerful than me that is in control.
Practicing meditation and growing in faith are not instant life hacks. Both practices are processes with take time. There isn’t an immediate change when you start meditating, and there isn’t an immediate change when you start following Christ and reading scripture, at least there wasn’t for me. If I’m being honest, it probably took well over a year for me to start realizing any noticeable changes, and those changes are on-going.
In other words, both practices are journeys. It requires daily daily meditation and prayer, daily reading and studying, and allowing the journey to unfold one day at a time. There isn’t a destination that I expect to reach, and that’s not the point. The point is to embrace the journey because the journey itself is the reward.
Do I feel as though I’ve been perfected because I’ve discovered this connection between meditation and faith? Of course not. I’m not even close to being perfect. I fail and fall short all the time, on a daily basis. But my awareness and faith allow me to recognize my failings as part of the process. When I react poorly, make a bad decision, have a bad day, or experience and “off” moment, the awareness of my mistakes combined with a strong faith help me to let go, learn, and move forward. I am on a journey to learn and grow, to get better every day, and to enjoy each and every day along the way. I will never achieve the goal of perfection, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be an ideal I strive towards while enjoying the journey along the way.