It's often said that "if prayer is talking to God, then meditation is listening to God." Here we dive into why this old saying holds so much truth.
The Deep Mind
With our deep mind (subconscious & unconscious) the strongest link, each and every one of us is part of "the ALL" (God). There is but one problem — our conscious mind. As it chatters away, worrying about this or that, making to do lists, replaying something we said last night, or whatever else the busybody conscious mind "thinks" over the course of its 70,000 thoughts per day — our deep mind is always there, under the surface, seeing, hearing, and feeling the divine (God).
Then, what's the best way to break through? How do we reach our subconscious and unconscious mind without obstruction? Meditation. By quieting down our superficial conscious mind and bringing our "divine" deep mind layers "to the surface," meditation is the best tool to receive God's unclouded message. In fact, meditators have reported feeling "God's divine presence" since the beginning of time!
Meditation across multiple faiths
So, how do major religions around the world view meditation?
Sikh teachings instruct people to arise early each day and to spend time meditating on God and his word. It's only through meditation that one is able to transcend the myriad problems caused by the ego (such as unnecessary desire). It's believed that, instead of asking God for "stuff," prayer & meditation should be focused on thanking God for all that he's given — for God knows precisely what each person needs and provides as much.
In Islam, according to the Qur'an, meditation is the highest way of listening to God (Allah) and absorbing his message. In addition to spending a great deal of time in meditation himself, the Prophet Muhammed instructed his followers to focus their meditation on the presence of Allah (God) and to know that he is always there.
In Buddhism, meditation is central. In fact, it's seen by Buddhists as the most important thing anyone can do! As the only true antidote to human suffering (fear, anxiety, hate, sorrow, disharmony, etc), meditation is viewed as the only true way to transform the human condition. By learning and mastering the habits and patterns of the mind, meditation opens the door to deeply peaceful and deeply profound states of being. And in this way, meditation brings us much closer to God.
Meditation & Christianity
For Christians, prayer is often seen as the best way to focus on God's word. With that said, the Bible does include many references to meditation. For example, Psalms 77:12 states, "I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds", or Psalms 1:2 which states, "but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."
If you've been using prayer as a way to find a particular answer (with less success than you'd like), meditation may be the magic solution. Of course, when choosing meditation vs prayer, it doesn't have to be one way or the other. Meditation techniques can always be incorporated into prayer (or vice versa) to make the best of both worlds!
In the end, using meditation to listen to God, and being mindful of any answers provided — is immensely valuable to anyone, regardless of faith.