Every single day we must digest, in our memory, something of the reading of that day; we must assimilate it into our beings and then, recalling it, set about redigesting it with even more care. This is something appropriate to our way of life, which brings us closer to God, and harnesses the soul to keep it from wasting itself on irrelevant thoughts.” ~~ William of Saint-Thierry

meditation

Have you ever noticed how, when it’s something that really matters to your life, you seem to be in the right place at just the right moment? You have that sort of “A-Ha!” moment, where everything suddenly makes sense. Call it an act of God, or the Universe (or whatever it is that you believe in), but it’s true, right?

It seems like these types of moments are happening more frequently for me. In reality, they’ve probably always been there, waiting for me to see and pick up on them, and I just didn’t. But as I come to know myself better and understand what it is that matters to me, it’s amazing the clarity I am starting to gain in terms of where I’m headed in this earthly life.

The pastor at my church on Sunday happened to wrap up his series on how to be Triumphant by talking about the role of meditation in our lives. And he brought up something that I found extremely interesting, because I never learned how to meditate until I started practicing yoga.

I’ve always been taught to empty my mind of all distractions in order to meditate. If you’ve been a student of yoga, or have a background in Eastern philosophy or religion, this may be the way you were taught as well…let everything go so you can have the opportunity to become enlightened. And when you become enlightened, you will know your life’s purpose.

My pastor acknowledged this way of meditation, and then countered by saying that what we really need to do when we’re meditating is not to empty our minds but instead, “fill up our minds with the word of God”; then keep chewing on it and digesting it until we find the message meant for each of us. Only when we do that will we be able to figure out our own unique purpose in life.

So that got me to thinking. Which way is the right way to meditate? Personally, I think both are right. I think you have to empty your mind of distractions before beginning your study of the word of God, so that you can then fill up your entire being with the word of God.

Think about it. If you’re coming to the table with the weight of the world on your shoulders – worrying about what’s going on at work, school, or home (or any of the other many things we stress about day in and day out) – then how in the world are you going to be able to devote your attention to the word of God you’re about to read? Right?

I love the quote above from William of Saint-Thierry. I believe what he said is exactly what my pastor was saying in his sermon, and I wholeheartedly agree. We need to digest the word of God and assimilate it into our being, and then redigest it as we begin to make sense of it. Only then will we be able to figure out how it relates to each of us in terms of our own unique lives.

Now, most of the time when I see you all, we’re on our yoga mats together. So you’re probably wondering why in the world I’m focusing on this topic for a yoga blog. Well, it’s pertinent, and there are a few reasons why I think so.

  1. Meditation is part of the practice of yoga. Some yogis devote an entire practice to meditation alone, with no physical postures being performed. I know many yogis who actually meditate over a spiritual text. For some, it’s the Bible, but it really doesn’t matter what religion you are. Any text you’re using, you’re probably looking to it for some inspiration, right? You need to clear your mind of distractions so that when you open that text, you can give it your full attention and figure out what it means to YOU and YOUR LIFE.
  2. Sometimes, we only get to do our meditation in yoga on the mat. This usually means we don’t have a text to refer to. The teacher may have some quote or theme for you to focus on, but that may not be something that resonates with you on that day. In this case, I still think it’s important to clear the mind first of all distractions. Then, you can focus on what your body is telling you, perhaps. Meditation doesn’t always have to be some amazing spiritual awakening, in my opinion – I believe it can be a physical awakening as well. Focusing on the messages our bodies are passing to us can be eye-opening. For example, if you notice pain or uncomfortableness anywhere in your body, that’s your body telling you that you may have gone too far in a pose or two, that you weren’t practicing in your body’s best interest. Internalize those sensations and see if you can figure out where you can refine your practice the next time you get on your mat.

So what do you think? Am I totally off base, or am I on the right track? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Namaste,

Melanie

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