Elizabeth PessinInternational health researcher, educator and mentor
What is Meditation?
Meditation involves ways in which a person focuses their attention and stills the body. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health,meditation is a mind and body practice that increases relaxation, improves coping with illnesses and overall wellbeing.
Meditation is an alternative approach being used to improve health. It’s a mental exercise where you contemplate and concentrate for periods of time. Meditation is convenient because it is free and it can be done anywhere. Some people like to listen to a recorded meditation in the comfort of their own space, while others go to a group gathering and meditate in the presence of others. Mindful meditation is a practice of increasing focus of the present moment, which can also be incorporated into daily activities – creating opportunity for active awareness.
Does Science Support Meditation as Being Healthy?
- Meditation has been shown scientifically to reduce high blood pressure, pain, symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and acute respiratory illnesses.
- Meditation may change the brain physically, allowing certain health problems to reverse or slow down.
- “The more time spent on meditation, the greater the decrease in scores on their measure of binge-eating, depression, and anxiety”.
Meditation can be more than a mental exercise; it can also be a spiritual exercise. Many forms of meditation are spiritually based, therefore it is important to know thatspirituality has been positively correlated with mental health. Research from the last 20 years about religion, religiosity, spirituality, and related terms found a significant relationship (72%) between level of spiritual/religious involvement and less mental disorder. Scientists suggests that religious involvement is associated with better mental health in areas of depression, suicide and substance abuse.
Does Christianity Support Meditation?
Although meditation originated from the Eastern traditions, it is integrated into many religious traditions around the world. For a Christian, meditation is about pausing to get God’s mind in the situation. One goal of being a Christian is to have God-like thoughts. God has spoken through the Bible, and there are several occasions when He suggests that we should meditate on the word of God, and change from the inside out. Here are a few Bible verses that support meditation:
- “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2)
- “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)
- “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
- “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:34)
- “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
By learning from the Holy Scripture Christians can strengthen their body, mind and spirit. For some Christians, meditation is a daily practice where they either pray to God, or read sacred scripture. Moreover, meditation allows for deeper reflection and sacred connection. Furthermore, as long as Christians are focused on God, meditation can be another tool to help strengthen one’s relationship with Christ, and improve mental and spiritual health.