Sunday, April 10, 2016

4 Meditation Techniques to Bring You Closer to Christ

If you've read my blog over the last few years, you'll know that I love meditating. Though I haven't always been able to keep up a routine, there's nothing that helps me feel more alive, at peace, and at home in my own skin than meditation. Meditation isn't just for mental health, though. With the right techniques, you can actually use meditation to increase your faith in Christ. Here are four kinds of meditation that have helped me come closer to the Savior:

1. Visualization

With this style of meditating, you sit down, close your eyes, and use your mind's eye to picture Christ standing in front of you. You make the picture as vivid as you can. Then, when you have a clear image of him, I try to send out feelings of love toward it. Sometimes it helpd to keep your mind on a word like "love" while you do this.

When meditating this way, I tend to feel a lot of inner warmth, what we Mormons call "a burning in the bosom." I eventually find myself sending love from my heart toward "Christ's" heart. Then it comes back again, making the exchange of love into a circle. This process of sending love to and from an image of Christ builds my love for Him and for everyone else. It helps me fulfill "the first and great commandment": to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matthew 22:37).

2. Icon Meditation

This meditation technique is a lot like visualizing, only in this one you use an actual, physical image placed in front of you. It's best if you use a painting or a sculpture of Christ for this, but really, any form of art that depicts someone you respect (let's call it an "icon") will work. The person doesn't even have to be real. I personally use a statue of the Greek goddess Hestia because she embodies qualities like stillness and self-control, which I value. It also helps to put the icon at eye level.

When you've set up your icon, try just looking at it for a while. Ten or fifteen minutes should work for this. You might find yourself getting bored while looking at your icon, but if you keep going, your gaze will get a bit "softer." The muscles in your body--especially those around your eyes and in your face--will loosen up and you'll start to look at it differently. Instead of looking intensely at the painting or the statue (like you were trying to "break though to it" with your gaze), you'll find yourself becoming affected by it. Instead of forcing your gaze upon it, you become receptive to whatever the icon suggests to you. And icons can suggest many different meanings to you depending on the day. For example, one time I looked at my Hestia statue and she looked, for a split second, like she was giving me a high five. But another time, the same gesture in the statue looked like she was asking for alms.

The differences you'll notice in the icon aren't physically "there," of course; they're projections by your unconscious mind, but those projections are a good way of discerning your spiritual state. If the icon only gives you negative impressions, it's a sign that you've drifted away from a positive spiritual place and that you need to fix something. But if you get positive impressions from your icon, those impressions are a great way of receiving personal revelation. By looking at a representation of positive qualities, you can let the parts of you that resonate with those qualities show themselves to you in the icon. It's like a mirror where good parts of you can see themselves.

3. Ponderizing

In last October's General Conference, Elder Devin G. Durrant gave a conference talk about "ponderizing." To "ponderize," you put a scripture verse in a place where you'll see it every day and ponder its meaning as you go through your week. Though it isn't immediately obvious why ponderizing counts as meditation, it shares many features with the icon meditation I just went over. In each one, you look at a representation of something sacred and ponder the meanings that occur to you. The only difference between them is that one is a picture and one is a scripture!

I like to do it a little differently than Elder Durrant does, though. When I "ponderize," I open my scriptures to any page and see what verses "stand out" to me. One or another will eventually strike me as more "interesting" or full of meaning. And when I've found the right verse, I'll empty my mind and, by seeing what thoughts come to my head from the verse, let the scriptures themselves "teach" me what I need to know. Of course, the real teacher here is the Holy Ghost, and when I empty my mind, I'm actually opening the way for Him to give me personal revelation. That way, reading the scriptures isn't just a chore: it's like a window to heaven.

4. "Just Being"

In "just being," I sit on a chair or on the floor and pay attention to whatever thoughts and feelings I have. Nothing more, nothing less. Eventually, if you do it long enough, you'll find that your mind become empty. But this isn't the "empty" of an empty glass or an blank TV screen. It's more like the openness of the sky on a clear, sunny day. It can take practice to regularly reach this state, but when you do, you'll discover that it's amazing. You don't have to say, do, or think anything. You see the world as if it were the depths of a pool of which, until now, you had only seen the choppy surface. Knowing this, you'll then start to understand what Christ meant when he said that "unto myself my works have no end, neither beginning" (D&C 29:33). For the state you go into in "just being" is one that is that much closer to Christ: where the world looks like it does from his heavenly perspective.



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  2. Meditation is definitely a good solution for every health problems. Apart from health we should also take the support of meditation to deal with depression and stress. Here also we have found that how meditation is helpful for us in several ways and therefore most of the people are taking the help of meditation.
    Meditation Tips