Spiritually Oriented Meditation
three slightly different variations
Many forms of spiritually oriented meditation involve clearing the mind by focusing on attributes of God such as peace, truth or love. Filling one’s mind with God reduces the space left for unwanted thoughts. The focus is on filling the mind rather than on clearing the mind of unwanted thoughts. The latter will tend to happen automatically, like when one nail is driven out with another.
Below are variations on how to do meditative “prayer” as described by three well-known writers on the subject: Dr. Joseph Murphy, Emmet Fox and Friar Thomas Keating.
A Deep Still Ocean of Peace top
In his book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind (p. 146) author Dr. Joseph Murphy mentions a conversation he had with a prominent foreign government official. This particular official was faced with constant abuse by the opposition party but was never disturbed or distracted. Even when threatened with violent overthrow by force he was able to “sleep in perfect peace.”
This is how the official did it: “His practice is to sit still for fifteen minutes in the morning and realize that in the center of himself is a deep, still ocean of peace.” … “At his center he found the still water, an inner peace, and there was great calm.”
The Golden Key top
In a famous two page essay The Golden Key To Prayer Emmet Fox writes that “prayer will enable you, sooner or later, to get yourself, or anyone else, out of any difficulty on the face of the earth.”
He says all you have to do is this: “Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead. This is the complete rule, and if only you will do this, the trouble, whatever it is, will presently disappear.” … “The rule is to think about God, and if you are thinking about your difficulty you are not thinking about God.”
Fox says “by constantly repeating some statement of absolute Truth that appears to you, such as … God is love, or God is guiding me now … or God is with me … however mechanical or dead it may seem at first you will soon find that the treatment has begun to take and that your mind is clearing. … be quiet but insistent.”
“Each time that you find your attention wandering, just switch it straight back to God.” “That is sufficient. You do your half, and God will never fail to do His.”
Consent to God’s Presence
Friar Thomas Keating, a founder of the Contemplative Prayer movement, describes Centering Prayer meditation as the practice of giving our inner consent to experiencing God with our conscious and unconscious minds. This leads to an “attitude of waiting upon the Lord with loving attentiveness.”
Here’s an assertion which may help as we practice experiencing God: Since God’s substance is omnipresent everything I sense, including myself, is God. God is consciousness. God is life and I am alive.
As an aside, the sacred word (such as peace, joy, truth, love, etc.) used in Centering Prayer is not a point of focus. It is a symbol of consent to God’s presence used as a tool to remind us to return to our thoughts to God in those cases where we’ve been distracted by our chattering “monkey mind.”
Welcoming Prayer top
Welcoming Prayer is an offshoot of Centering Prayer Meditation. Both are ways to consent to God’s presence and God’s actions in one’s life. It is usually used as a response to a particular pain encountered during daily life. It more specifically welcomes God’s presence in a particular situation and helps to release that particular emotional pain.
Joseph Murphy and Emmet Fox recommend filling one’s mind with God so that there is little or no room left for other thoughts. Keating’s approach is slightly different in that he recommends consenting to God’s presence and then attentively waiting for this presence to become evident. He uses a sacred word to remind himself to return his attention to God when distracted.
All three describe meditation as a simple process which you should not struggle to “figure out.” Just do your best with the basics and positive results will eventually follow. This is the way to peace and happiness.
Related Sources & Links top
- Return to Meditation Overview
- The Power of Your Subconscious Mind (p. 146) by author Dr. Joseph Murphy
- The Golden Key To Power, a two-page pdf by Emmet Fox
- Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating
- Good video on the spiritual purpose of meditation by Dr. Paul Brunton
- A simple definition of meditation and why do it
- Comments on the long-term benefits of Centering Prayer Meditation from someone who has been doing it for over 20 years
- Free workshops on Contemplative Meditation
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