Meditation can be beneficial in healing degenerative diseases and
psychological illnesses. It will also be benefical nutritionally since it
can effect the nervous system and help digestion.
Meditation Defined Biblically
The following is taken from Jim Tibbetts book: Meditation, the Jesus Prayer and Alleluia Praise! It gives a basic understanding of biblically based meditation.
Meditation has had different meanings, basically it is either a pondering over a text of scripture and outwardly thinking about it or inwardly pondering on a scripture or holy things or the name of the almighty God.
The word “meditation” occurs over twenty-five times in the Old Testament. (Gen 24:63, Jos 1:8, 1 Kgs 18:27, Is 33:18, Sir 6:37, 14:20, 39:7, 50:28, Job 15:4, Ps 1:2, 5:1, 19:14, 49:2, 63:6, 77:3, 77:6, 77:12, 104:34; 119:12, 119:15, 119:23, 119:27, 119:48, 119:78, 119:97, 119:99; 119:148, 119:78, 119.97, 119:99, 119:148, 143:5, 145:5)
The root in Hebrew of the word “meditation” means to ponder, to murmur, to reflect, to pray, a murmuring sound, to meditate. The Greek would add to this to revolve in the mind, to imagine, pre-meditate (Lk 21:14), to take care of (1 Ti 4:15). The first instance of meditation in the N.T. is Luke 2:51, where Mary ‘pondered’ these things in her heart.
Meditation in Hebrew means (Cf. Gn 24.63,
to ponder, Jos 1.8; 1 Kg 18.27;
to murmur, Is 33.18; Sir 6.37; 14.20,
to reflect, 39.7; 50.28; Jb 15.4;
to pray, Ps 1.2, 5.1, 19.14, 49.3, 63.6,
a murmuring sound, 77.3,6,12, 104.34, 119.12,
to meditate, 119.15,23,27,48,78
119.97,99,148, 143.5, 145.5)
to pre-meditate, Lk 21.14
to take care of. 1 Tm 4.15
How I love your law, O Lord!
It is my meditation all the day. Ps 119.97
At Bethlehem, Mary kept all these things,
pondering (meditating) them in her heart. Lk 2.19
Prayer and meditation are themes found throughout scripture. There are three basic types of prayer in scripture: 1. pondering or meditation, 2. praise or spontaneous prayer, and 3. structured or discursive prayer and formal prayers like the Jewish ‘shelma’ or the ‘Our Father’. Prayer, Praise and Meditation (Pondering) are found throughout scripture. Jesus, Mary and Joseph would have prayed and meditated as a
way of life.
Mary the mother of Jesus would have fasted and meditated as a devout Jew and there was a union of the Two Hearts that we can reflect on in Scriptures. Mary, was the first face that Jesus gazed upon after His birth, Lk 2, and the last face Jesus gazed upon before dying on the cross, Jn 19. Her heart rejoiced as thy newborn son was placed in thy arms in the manager, Lk 2 and her heart was broken as thy dead son was placed in her arms at Calvary, Jn 19. With a “single heart” she led others in prayer and prayed in tongues with everyone present, Acts 1.14, and her heart rejoiced as the Spirit filled everyone, Acts 2. Throughout her life she prayed, meditated and communed in her Immaculate Heart with Jesus in His Sacred Heart. Jesus and Mary were together for 30 years, that is a long time to pray together.
Mary meditated on and followed Jesus' example in prayer and meditation. Jesus finds strength in meditating and prayer before dawn (Mk 1.35) and He went up into the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (Lk 6.12). He prays regularly in the Synagogue (Lk 4.16). He prays and meditates in solitude (Mk 6.46); He prays twice a day (Mt 14.23; Lk 3.21, 5.16, 6.12, 9.18,28f) the basic Jewish Creed of faith: “and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your
might.” Deut 6.5-7
Jesus thanks His Father, God; (Mt 11.25-30; Jn 11.41) he praises His Father, God (Lk 10.21; Jn 17), he is transfigured, while he was praying before the Father (Lk 9.28), he prays for his disciples (Jn 17), he acts as an intercessor (Heb 4.14-16), and he teaches to “Ask....Seek....Knock,” (Lk 11.9-13) and to “pray always.” Lk 18.1
The Jewish practice of liturgical prayer (Cf. Dn 6.11, 14) was three times a day: (Ps 55.17), morning, noon and evening (Acts 3.1; 10.3,30). during these three hours of prayer, as his custom was (Lk 4.16), young Jesus brought up in a devout home, meditated on the mysteries of Yahweh (Lk 2, 4.16).
Prayer and Praise and Meditation were a way of life for the early Jews. They represent three basic modes of being that are expressed in the human Spirit by the Holy Spirit.
The practice of Meditation
On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus
Many Biblical and practical insights into the Prayer of the Heart, Jesus Prayer can be found in a little booklet, "On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus", by a Monk of the Eastern Church.
You may pronounce the Name of Jesus in order “that Christ may dwell in your hearts”. Eph 3:17. You may, when this Name is formed on your lips, experience the reality of His coming in the soul: “I stand at the door and I knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20. You may enthrone His Person and His Name, as signifying the Person, within yourselves: “They have built Thee a sanctuary therein for Thy name.” 2 Chronicles.
It is the “I in them” of Our Lord’s priestly prayer. Jn 17:26. Or we may throw ourselves into the Name and feel that we are the members of the Body of Christ and the branches of the true vine. “Abide in me” Jn 15:4. Of course nothing can abolish the difference between the Creator and the creature. But there is, made possible by the Incarnation, a real union of mankind and of our own persons with Our Lord, - a union which the use of the Name of Jesus may express and strengthen.
Some analogy exists between the Incarnation of the Word and the indwelling of the Holy Name within us. The Word was made flesh. Jesus became man. The inner reality of the Name of Jesus, having passed into our souls, overflows into our bodies. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”. Rom 13:14. The living content of the Name enters physically into ourselves. “Thy Name is as ointment poured forth.” Sg 1:3. The Name, if I repeat it with faith and love, becomes a strength able to paralyze and overcome “the law of sin which is in my members”. Rom 7:23. We can also put on ourselves the Name of Jesus as a kind of physical seal keeping our hearts and bodies pure and consecrated. “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm”. Sg 8:6. But this physical seal is not a piece of wax or lead. It is the outward sign and the Name of the Living Word.
The invocation of the Name may be practiced anywhere and at any time. “And I will wait on thy name.” Ps 52:9 We can pronounce the Name of Jesus in the streets, in the place of our work, in our room, in church, etc. We can repeat the Name while we walk. Besides that “free” use of the Name, not determined or limited by any rule, it is good to set apart certain times and certain places for a “regular” invocation of the Name.
“But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your father who is in that secret place.” Mt 6:6
Before beginning to pronounce the Name of Jesus, establish peace and recollection within yourself and ask for the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost. “No one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Cor 12:3 The Name of Jesus cannot really enter a heart that is not being filled by the cleansing breath and the flame of the Spirit.
“I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in his name.” Zech 10:12 The invocation of the Name of Jesus may be simply an episode on our spiritual way. Or it may be for us a way, one spiritual among others. Or it may be for us be the way, the spiritual way, which we definitely and predominantly choose.
As we pronounce the Name, we should respond to the presence of Our Lord, “They...fell down and worshiped him”. Mt 2:11 “Save me, O God, by thy name.” Ps 54:1
In pronouncing the Name of Jesus we inwardly meet all them that are united with Our Lord, all them of whom He said: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mt 18:20
We should find all men in the heart of Jesus and in his love. We should throw all men into His Name and enclose them therein. Let us not hasten to say to God: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” Ps 22:22.
What we may say with soberness and truth is this. The invocation of the Name of Jesus simplifies and unifies our spiritual life. No prayer is simpler that this “one word prayer” in which the Holy Name becomes the only focus of the whole life. Complicated methods often tire and dissipate thought. But the name of Jesus easily gathers everything itself. It has a power of unification and integration. The divided personality which could say: “My name is legion, for we are many” Mk 5:9, will recover its wholeness in the sacred Name: “Yahweh, teach me your way, how to walk beside you faithfully, make me single-hearted in fearing your name.” Ps 86:11.
Too often our prayers are limited to petition, intercession and repentance. The invocation of the name is also worship, “make me single-hearted in fearing your name. I thank you will all my heart, Lord my God, I will glorify thy name for evermore.” Ps 68:11,12 The disinterested prayer, the praise given to God because of His own excellency, the regard directed towards Him with the utmost respect and affection, the exclamation of Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” - this ought to come first.
These departed, whole life is now hidden with Christ, form the heavenly Church. They belong to the total and eternal Church, of which the Church now militant on earth is but a very small part. We meet in the Name of Jesus the whole company of the Saints: “His name shall be in their foreheads.” Rev 22:4 In it we meet the angels; it is Gabriel who, first on earth, announced the Holy Name, saying to Mary: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus”. Lk 1:31 In it we meet the woman “blessed among women” to whom Gabriel spoke these words and who so often called her son by His name. May the Holy Spirit make us desire to hear the Name of Jesus as the Virgin Mary first heard it and to repeat that Name as Mary and Gabriel uttered it! May our own invocation of the Name enter this abyss of adoration, obedience and tenderness!
The original meaning of “Eucharist” is: thanksgiving. Our inner Lord’s Supper will first be a thanksgiving over the great gift-the gift made to us by the Father in the person of His Son. “By Him...let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually...” Heb 13:15. The Scripture immediately explains the nature of this sacrifice of praise: “...that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name”. So the idea of the Name is linked with that of thanksgiving.
The Name of Jesus occupied a pre-eminent place in the message and action of the Apostles. They were preaching in the Name of Jesus, healing the sick in His Name; they were saying to God: “Grant unto thy servants...that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.” Acts 4:29
Through them “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified”. Ac 19:17. It is only after Pentecost that the Apostles announced the Name “with power”. Jesus had told them: “You shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Ac 1:8 In this “Pentecostal” use of the Name of Jesus we find clear evidence of the link between the Spirit and the Name. Such a Pentecostal use of the Name is not restricted to the Apostles. It is not only of the Apostles, but of all “them that believe” that Jesus said: “In my name shall you cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues...they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mk 16:17-18
Only our lack of bold faith and charity prevents us from calling upon the Name in the power of the Spirit. If we really follow the way of the Name, a time must come when we become able (without pride, without looking at ourselves) to manifest the glory of Our Lord and to help other men through “signs”. He whose heart is become a vessel of the Holy Name should not hesitate to go about and repeat to those who need spiritual or bodily relief the words of Peter: “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give you. I the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Ac 3:6. O that the Spirit of Pentecost may write within us the Name of Jesus in flame!
Conversely the Name of Jesus may also help us to coincide with the attitude of Our Lord towards the Spirit. Jesus was convinced in Mary “of the Holy Ghost”. Mt 1:20. He remained during his whole earthly life (and still remains) the perfect receiver of the gift, He let the Spirit take complete possession of Him, begin “led up of the Spirit” Mt 4:1, or driven by it. He cast out devils “by the Spirit of God”. Mt 12:28. He returned from the desert “in the power of the Spirit”. Lk 4:14 He declared: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Lk 4:18 In all this Jesus shows a humble docility towards the Holy Ghost. In pronouncing the Name of Jesus we can (as far as is given to man) make ourselves one with Him in this surrender to the Spirit. “So that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: Jesus Christ is Lord!” Phil 2:10,11
The Scripture often promises a special blessing to them that call on the Name of the Lord. We may apply to the Name of Jesus what is said of the Name of God. We shall therefore repeat: “Turn to me please, have mercy on me, as you should those who love your name.” Ps 119:132 And of every one of us may the Lord say what he said of Saul: “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name...” Ac 9:15
The last prayer of Jesus in the gospels is: Shalom, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19). Earlier he said this in an expanded form: “Peace I give to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, that is my gift to you.” (Jn 13:27).
This monk gave an overview of the Holy Name of Jesus. In chapter six the ‘name’ is listed which refers to Jesus giving a further view of the all important name of Jesus and why it is the best name to meditate on, the name above every other name.
Using this method with the name of Jesus, unceasing prayer in the heart can be approached and achieved. The goal of the Christian life is to Pray Always in all circumstances, our life is to become a prayer - to God and to others. The steps in the Prayer of the Heart method of meditation are very simple and only takes a little effort to get it going and eventually it will become automatic to a degree.
The steps simply are:
1. Sit comfortably and relax
2. Start invoking the name of Jesus with the mind
3. Move from the mind into the heart to meditate
4. End by saying the Glory Be or the Our Father
The steps for the Jesus Prayer also simple.
1. Start invoking the name of Jesus.
2. Let your heart take over and continue.
Scientific studies on Meditation
Brainwave patterns and biofeedback were used to analyze those who meditated. There are four principal brainwave patterns. Beta is the most common and usually in our waking hours and is the excited state. Alpha is more restful and quiet. Theta is usually associated with drowsiness or close to sleep. And Delta is found in deep sleep. Hertz is the cycles per second and in the normally unconscious: Delta 1-4 hertz; Theta 4-8 hertz, and the normally conscious are alpha 8-13 hertz; Beta 13-26 hertz.
In studies done on yoga and zen practitioners of meditation and also on Catholic monks experienced in meditation they found that the state of meditation was usually the alpha state. Those beginning meditation would go back and forth between beta and alpha, but those experienced would enter into the alpha state in meditation and sometimes move a little into the theta states. The heart rate and respiration also slows down when in this alpha state of meditation. Thus meditation (in the alpha state) is in some ways, a more restful state then sleep.
Those very experienced in meditation would show a high-amplitude alpha, which showed that the frequency of the rhythms were lowered as one entered deeply into meditation. Also those experienced were not as reactive to external noises.
Experiments showed that different forms of meditation, from different religions like yoga, Buddhism, Chrisitanianty would bring into play the lower frequency brain waves.
Fr. William Johnson, a Director of the Institute of Oriental Religions in Tokyo, explains how while in meditation the alpha rhythms can be blocked or suppressed in numerous ways such as: agitation, excitement, conjuring up visual imagery and looking at it, a sound or touch, etc. “Seeing this, one can understand why the old spiritual masters discouraged conceptualization and discursive thinking in time of awareness or the superficial visualization which characterizes and brings one into beta, thus destroying the conditions most favorable to contemplative experience. Put in scientific terms, what the spiritual masters wanted was to bring their disciples into an alpha state and keep them there, intuitively realizing the value of this neurological conditioning.
“Let me remark here, however, that while all contemplation is probably alpha, not all alpha is contemplation. This is important. Contemplation is much more than a certain kind of brainwave; and there is a whole area of motivation of faith, of grace and the rest which transcends scientific experimentation to enter the cloud of unknowing.”
“One thing that interests Dr. Green is the relationship of this hypnagogic (dream-like imagery, when the mind moves towards sleep), theta imagery to creativity. It is well known that the creativity of poets, artists, writers and scientists is frequently linked to dreams and dream-like states. We have all heard stories about writers waking up in the night and furiously scribbling their great intuitions, or of mathematicians and scientists crying ‘Eureka’ in the dead of night or at the moment of waking.
“And again this is not without great relevance for meditation. It is not at all uncommon for religious people to receive deep enlightenment in the twilight zone between waking and sleeping, or at some time in the night. For this is precisely the time when the conscious mind is open to receiving communications from the teeming womb of the unconscious.
‘A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing beseeching him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them’ (Acts 16:9-10). Was this vision hypnagogic? The Scripture does not say that Paul was asleep it does not say this was a dream but just that it was ‘in the night’. Whatever it was, it was creative and Paul lost no time in following its message.”