Reflection: On Meditation

One of my favorite bible verses is: "Be still and know that I AM God." When I was a teenager, I used to carry a business card sized picture with the above Psalm written across a serene garden.

Lucid Dreaming

When my family first got dial-up internet connection, I would spend time just surfing the net and reading things that caught my fancy. One day I encountered a site about Lucid Dreaming. The idea of consciously taking control of a dream would probably appeal to most teenagers, but I have a mind that wants to know both why and how. Lucid Dreaming is a discipline in mindfulness: stopping during the day and considering your surroundings and running through scripts to ensure you are awake. If you make a habit of these practices, eventually your dream self will do it too, and chances are you'll realize that you're dreaming. It's a discipline and takes will-power. I have yet to be successful in inducing my own lucid dreams, but discovering the practice was my first step in appreciating silence.


In college, I took up a strange practice in an attempt to expand my mind and intelligence: holding my breath underwater. I read an article that explained that practicing and increasing the time you are able to hold your breath underwater eventually causes the arteries that carry blood to your brain to expand, while also increasing your body's ability to use oxygen efficiently. This would, in turn, lead to increased cognition, attention, and mental endurance. I worked my way up to holding my breath for about four minutes over the course of two years. I recognize now that all that time alone underwater with just my thoughts and depleting air supply helped to still my mind.


My mind is often surprisingly quiet, which was not always the case for me: a naturally shy introvert who would wrestle with ideas I was afraid to share. Maybe that shyness helped to increase my mindfulness as well though. Whatever the case, I can, in all honesty, say that I am a patient person.

With all that said, deliberate meditation has not come easy to me. I am much better at contemplation - focusing on a single train of thought. I am learning though.


Read about meditation. It has some amazing benefits. Here's a quote from Professor of Psychology at University of Virginia, Jonathan Haidt, "Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It is meditation."

I once read that using mediation or binaural beats (stereo frequencies that trick your brain into going into a meditative state) for thirty minutes are as restorative for your mind and body as a full cycle of sleep (about two hours). A recent study using brain scans of people who were taught to meditate showed that their brains grew gray matter - improving their memories, emotional control, and cognitive functioning. This sure sounds like the benefits for which I was holding my breath in college.

I've tried meditation and relaxation techniques over the past year and they greatly improved my sleep (as in put me to sleep). I just went to a centering prayer class, and found it to be a profound experience. I tried mindfulness meditation just an hour ago, and found it rejuvenating. I'm going to give loving-kindness meditation a shot, and just discovered that there are two labyrinths in my town to walk.

I've heard people who meditate refer to themselves as seekers. Jesus tells me, "Seek and you shall find." We are also told that God is in the silence.

Be still and know.

Read "The Happiness Hypothesis" by Jonathan Haidt, watch Thomas Keating explain centering prayer, check out The Tree of Contemplative Practices.

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