Here are three simple steps to a peaceful experience of Christian meditation.
Meditation in the Christian tradition consists of seeking “to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking” (CCC 2705). It typically involves meditating on a specific theme, often with the aid of a spiritual book or the Bible.
Here is a brief beginner’s guide to Christian meditation, focusing on three essential steps to enjoy peace of mind and soul.
1Place yourself consciously in the presence of God
St. Francis de Sales recommended, “Exercise your ordinary imagination, picturing the Savior to yourself in His Sacred Humanity as if He were beside you.” This is an important part of meditation, as it reminds you of the goal of meditation, deepening your relationship with God.
Sometimes it is helpful to breathe slowly and calm your mind, helping you to focus your attention on God and not all the events of the day.
2Begin reading from a spiritual book or the Bible
Christian meditation is an exercise of the mind and soul, which is why it is important to rely on reading a spiritual book or different parts of the Bible. It could be the Old or New Testament, or simply the Gospels. Whatever it is, St. Francis de Sales suggests, “Take a book, and read attentively till such time as your mind is calmed and quickened.”
Not everything will inspire within us great fervor or love of God, but when it does, then we should stop and ponder that spiritual truth.
3Speak and listen to God
After calming your spirit and pondering one or various spiritual truths, it is now time to speak with God and listen to his response. Prayer is not about hearing an audible voice, but noticing certain movements within our heart.
St. Ignatius of Loyola explains the attributes of God’s voice: “It is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on.” Furthermore, “it belongs to God our Lord to give consolation to the soul without preceding cause, for it is the property of the Creator to enter, go out and cause movements in the soul, bringing it all into love of His Divine Majesty.”
If we notice peace and joy, it is likely God trying to speak to us within that experience.
With these three steps, you will be well on your way to practicing the art of Christian meditation.