Learn to Meditate

“If a person has a really deep interest in spiritual growth, he or she cannot do away with the practice of meditation. That is the key!” — Dalai Lama

Each of us is endowed with a Divine purpose in this life. Many of us spend much of our lifetime feeling that we are not achieving what we were meant to achieve. Have you ever had that feeling?

Meditation may help us in many ways: experiencing a deeper peace, attaining a greater awareness of our divine purpose, bringing more joy into our life, even improving our brain functioning. Quieting the mind to allow the “still, small voice” to speak lovingly to us will help us harmonize with that purpose, redirect our intentions to its achievement and, thereby, experience a more fulfilling and joy-filled life. A recent Harvard research project actually measured the change in “gray matter density” in the cerebral cortex of test subjects after just 8 weeks of meditation.

There are many ways to meditate, and many teachers from whom to learn. But the process is not complex; in fact, it is a very simple process (simple but not necessarily easy, the chattering mind can be calmed with patience and perseverance).

Most of the Unity communities have classes on meditation. There are many meditation teachers. One such author is B. Alan Wallace with a book titled “Mind in the Balance.” He has extensive teaching material on YouTube.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk that led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks of the Vietnam War and has been a prolific teacher in the West, also has a vast body of recorded material on YouTube.

A favorite meditation technique recommended by Unity ministers is one taught by Sri Eknath Easwaran in his book “Meditation”. Easwaran suggests memorizing a favorite spiritual passage, such as the Prayer of St. Francis or the Prayer of Willingness. Then, while sitting in a comfortable, upright and balanced position, silently and repeatedly recite the passage. With each repetition, slow the recitation, leaving more “space” between each word; let the space be short enough to not let extraneous thoughts barge in but long enough to experience a quiet period (perhaps a second or two between each word during the first repetition). On subsequent repetitions, let more “space” enter between each word, for example three to four seconds the second time through — but not enough time to let distracting thoughts arise.

Should the mind become distracted with extraneous thoughts, simply start the passage from the beginning, using the same speed of silent reciting as when the extraneous thoughts arose. Focus on keeping the mind attuned to each single word, then on the quiet between the words — alternating between focusing on the next word of the passage and focusing on the quiet between the words.

You may start with only ten minutes of meditation at first, with perhaps five seconds of quiet between words during the last repetition of the prayer. This meditation time can be increased gradually to twenty, then to thirty minutes in subsequent sessions as this becomes more comfortable. Be gentle with yourself as you practice this. It does not need to be an endurance test.

Favorite prayers for this include:

Prayer of Protection
Prayer of St. Francis
Prayer of Willingness
Great Invocation

In joy.