December 1, 2021
Do you meditate?
Many people around the world meditate on a regular basis. Many of these people come from a variety of faith traditions. That is, vast numbers of people who practice meditation come from a faith tradition other than Christianity.
I did not know much about meditation when I was growing up. (I guess there were not too many Lutherans who were in the habit of regular meditation during the 1970’s, at least in my area.) By the time I really got interested about different types of prayer – which was during the late 1980’s – I found a number of books published about meditation and contemplation. And, these books came from a variety of different faith traditions.
If no one in your family or among your friends practices meditation, it might indeed seem different. But, is meditation any more different than certain types of prayer that are practiced in many homes of devout Catholics in the Chicago area? Or, the types of prayer practiced by Orthodox acquaintances of mine around Chicago? This is an honest, sincere question. (I really would like to understand!)
I love the simple definition given by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “Meditation is simply the practice of stopping and looking deeply.”  That means to me stopping and looking deeply – with no judgment.
A snap response might be: “Oh, that is easy!” But, is it? A non-judgmental, open, interested stop, with a deep gaze – this might indeed be a challenge, whatever your faith tradition!
Thich Nhat Hanh goes on to say, “With mindfulness and concentration you can direct your attention to what is there and have a deep look. You can begin to see the true nature of what is in front of you.”  Isn’t this a way of looking at things (and people) the way God must see them? At least, starting to see them with God’s eyes?
I have practiced the different ways of meditation and contemplation this monk suggests in this small book. Mind-opening, to say the least. I cannot meditate on a regular basis, because my mind is too wedded to the written word. (I really enjoy praying with Scripture! But, more on that, later.) However, when I do try to meditate, I receive rich rewards. God knows that this is not my preferred way of praying, and I believe God honors that, and understands.
Yes, I have meditated, a number of times. I have been refreshed! And, I deeply respect and honor Thich Nhat Hanh, and his practice of coming before the Holy. This slim, little book holds a valued place on my bookshelf devoted to books on prayer, contemplation and meditation.
Please, pray with me. Dear Holy One, thank You for many different understandings of You and how You are in the world. How You relate to individuals, as well as how You might be as different people approach You in different ways. Thank You for helping me to open myself to new experiences in prayer. Thank You especially for this little book How to Sit. Help me glean words of wisdom and ways of prayer and meditation from its pages. In Your divine Name I pray, amen.
Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.
 Nhat Hanh, Thich, How to Sit (Parallax Press: United States of America, 2014), 18.