Meditating is a sin?

meditation4

Meditating is a sin?

I was raised in a stream of Christianity that said it was a sin to meditate.

Some of you are saying, “Yup; because it is”.

Most of you are saying “What?” and “Why?” and “That’s frigging nuts”.

Others are taking the middle ground thinking, “It’s ok to meditate, as long as it involves reading the bible and or praying.”

I was raised in a stream of Christianity that said it was a sin to meditate and I did too, because I didn’t know what meditation was and my view of God involved shame, worry and a cultural / behavioral track that I thought I had to stay on in order for God to keep on loving me.

This morning the early autumn air was crisply and beautifully fresh.

When I got out of bed, I went to the bathroom and drank a giant tumbler of cool water.

Next, I sat on a cushion on the floor and lit a candle.

For a  bit, I focused on nothing but my breath, feeling the sensation, as air came in through my nose, filled my lungs and gently exited my mouth.

My eyes began to close.

There were sounds…

Cars outside, people walking by, birds waking up…

Those sounds, as I became aware of them, became part of the moment.  Not in a way that was dismissed or  attached to.  They were simply noticed.

Thinking about my body and starting at the top of my head, I worked my way down to the bottom of my feet, all the while noticing sensations and feelings.

My nose was a little blocked…

My lower back was tight…

My toe hurt a little…

Back to being aware of my breath…

The word “Pneuma” was brought up and with no particular rhythm, I gently started to repeat it silently.

My breath, body, feelings, sounds and a sacred word were peacefully and sweetly grounded and at the same time, flowing.

In this quiet posture thoughts began to arise.

As they came, they were noticed and allowed to float away as I lightly and sweetly returned to my breath and my sacred word.

My timer softly chimed after eleven minutes and I slowly opened my eyes.

Sin?

Really?

I know the arguments of the right leaning fundamentalists inside and out, because I was one.

Sure, guru worship exists, but this is not that.

Meditation is not an attempt to clear one’s mind nor is it held as a path to some kind of enlightenment.

Sure, some people have screwy motives and can take something beautiful and twist it, but this is not that.

I’m no longer limited by the fear mongering and lazy thinking of a misguided subculture and I wish the same for you.

This practice helps me to be less distracted by the negative self talk in my head.

It enables me to focus better throughout the day.

Meditation does not serve as a substitution for anything, but rather as a supportive enhancement to my other spiritual practices.

My longing for you, is that you walk in freedom, thoughtfully enjoying every practice that supports you becoming who you are called to be.

My longing for you is peace.

 

5 thoughts on “Meditating is a sin?

  1. Wow so wonderful to hear of your personal growth. I too grew up in such a church and eventually left only to find something true to me, Buddhism.
    I have heard it said that if prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening to him. While it’s only in stillness that we can hear the divine.

    On a separate note I have a question. Please don’t think I am being rude I am just curious and appreciate respectful dialog, although the question in not an easy one. But here it goes, you mentioned guru worship, what is the difference between guru worship and say praying to mother Mary or to Jesus instead of only to God? One could say that all three have the teacher principal, and are the doorway to spiritual growth with God. Other religions such as Islam are even stricter when it comes to this and even all forms of idol worship.

    Just curious,

    QP

    • Hey Karmaguy, Thanks for your kind words and thoughtful question. I also love respectful dialog. 1. The guru worship comment was simply to say that one can meditate and not have it involve a guru or guru worship. The thought of following a guru would be inconsistent with mainstream Christianity and we don’t want Christians to miss out on the benefits of meditation due to an unnecessary concern. 2. Most Catholics I’ve talked to say that they are not really praying to Mary but with her in the hope that she will intercede. I’m not Catholic and am not enough of an authority on their theology to properly expound. 3. Now for Jesus. Christianity teaches that there is one God (monotheism) and that within the one God are the Father the Son and The Holy Spirit. For Christians who pray to Jesus, by virtue of the trinity they would see it as praying to God though many would see themselves as praying to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Would love to continue this chat!

      • I thought about our conversation the last few days and had a few ideas. Although I have a lama (guru) I am hard pressed to think of a time when I have ever worshiped him. I remember when I was young and worshiped god and these two situations do not compare. What does compare is the feeling I had for one or two reverends who made a big difference in my adolescent life. The respect is the same, the chats talking about spiritual issues are the same, and so is as I can imagine the celebrity status that a lama or minister can have if the organization is big enough. Some people may even worship the pope. You know I think of him as I do my grandfather but there is no worship, nor is there for the other Buddhists I know.

        As for meditation without a lama it is of course on some levels possible but not on others. There are some practices where supervisors are simply required for instance when doing a long retreat. In some practices one simply needs to check his/her results with someone who had the experience. Buddhism is a wisdom tradition heavily based on experience.
        I am personally hard stretched to find a difference between saying a mantra with my mala and a repentant catholic saying 100 Hail Marys with his rosary except I have nothing to repent for. Buddhism is beyond the dualism of good and bad. Praying to god while Christ on the cross sits before me is not much different from meditation in front of a Buddha except j am not asking for anything.
        When taking buddhist “refuge” we recognize the unity our body, speech, and mind with that if the Buddha, dharma, sangha and in some cases the lama as well. This is like our trinity if you could call it that and the best part is we are and always have been a part of it. One last thing about a lama is that if we can see him as a Buddha then he becomes the example for us. Sort of like if he can realize the full truth of mind then so can I.
        Any way I am curious if you see some similarities here or something else? Do you agree or disagree with some of my observations?

        Have a great day!

        QP

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