When I was a teenager, I remember having a brief, yet memorable conversation with a relative about her thoughts on meditation. I could tell she was confused as to why I had brought up the topic.
We were Baptists after all.
But she indulged me anyway, tilted her head and gave it some thought. After several seconds of silence, she replied, “I don’t know, Kelly. I don’t believe in it. When you open up your mind, you’re just inviting the devil to come in.”
Made sense to me.
I was raised in a faith tradition where the devil got nearly as much airplay as the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost all put together. We were always rebuking him, shaking him off and stomping him under our feet. We were told to speak in tongues so that he couldn’t understand what we were saying.
Surely, the final frontier was our minds!
For me, the topic of meditation stayed right there where I left it years ago, until at my sister’s insistence, I started to take-up yoga. While the “Ommmms” at the end always creeped me out a bit, I really appreciated the calm that came through meditative yoga practice. Then, I came across a joint meditation series with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey.
I’ve been hooked ever since.
While meditation has become fairly mainstream, some Christians remain resistant for fear that meditation constitutes a drift from the only true path. On the contrary, my meditative practice has amplified and revived my spiritual walk and resulted in a sort of rededication to my Christian faith.
Meditation is a powerful tool for accessing the divine and given the current state of domestic and international affairs, I’d submit we need as many access points to God as we can get! So, before you dismiss meditation outright, here are four reasons to consider giving it a second thought.
Meditation has little to do with religion
While meditation originates from the Buddhist tradition, it is not a religious ritual like baptism or communion. It is a means of gaining insight and perspective through the quieting of your mind. While meditation can be described as metaphysical, as it is concerned with achieving a higher sense of awareness and consciousness, it does not adhere to a particular system of faith and worship. In other words, you can still love Jesus and meditate too.
Your subconscious is active, whether you pay attention to it or not
Have you ever not been able to get a song out of your mind, only to have your friend tell you it was just playing in the store you left, but you hadn’t noticed? Or had a very vivid dream similar to a movie you just watched with precise details you barely paid attention to? The mind is a powerful machine which is constantly processing information, even in our sleep. It is usually operating on multiple dimensions and never fully shuts off. When you slow down to pay attention, you realize that your mind is a storm of activity. The workings of your unconscious mind are somewhat like apps running in the background of your phone, all the while draining your battery. It’s not until you address those apps that you’re able to get the greatest utility from your phone. Your mind is the same way.
Meditation is a tremendous stress reliever
Let’s say you don’t buy into the awareness and consciousness benefits. Fair enough. But believe me, there is nothing more calming than having time to yourself where the only thing you’re required to do is BREATHE. The benefits can be life-changing. Since embracing meditation, I’ve become a much calmer person, not as easily irritated or perturbed and much more patient. It helps me to not sweat the small stuff and to be grateful for every moment, no matter what it brings.
Meditation creates intimacy with God
I always say that prayer is me talking to God, while meditation is God talking to me. When my mind is clear, I’m better able to hear from God and I feel more self-assured in the decisions I make because I know I’ve prioritized my quality time with my creator. And to be honest, sometimes, I’m just all “prayed-out” in that I don’t have anything particularly novel to SAY to God at the moment. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to BE with God. Meditation comes with no pressure and no judgement. There’s no communication…just communing. My relationship with God today is more intimate than it has ever been before, and I know my meditation practice is a big part of that.
So there you have it...more peace, less stress and greater intimacy with God. Oh, and so far, no signs of the devil hanging out in my mind (thank goodness for that). On the contrary, meditation has seemingly made more room for God in my heart, room that continues to expand each and every day.
Kelly Burton Ph.D. is an accomplished entrepreneur with over a decade’s experience launching and scaling start-up companies. She is the founder of Bodyology, a tech-based clothing line and Nexus Research Group, a social research firm.
Follow Kelly Burton on Twitter and Instagram @iamkellyburton or at kellyburton.net.