I've been talking a bit about scriptural meditation (Psalm 1:2; 119:148; etc.), because it's such an excellent, powerful vehicle for truly internalizing the Word of God, and, I think, understanding it more fully.
I didn't get saved until I was 26 years old.
In college, I was traumatized by the cold, highly competitive environment of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Friends of mine were flunking out, having actual nervous breakdowns and attempting suicide. At age 19, I was taking prescription Valium for tension headaches. Intrigued by the possibility of a more natural way of coping, I took the course in Transcendental Meditation, developed by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; the same guy who taught the Beatles.
I paid my money, got my own, individualized "mantra," and practiced TM pretty regularly for the next couple years. I enjoyed it, to tell you the truth, and I believed at the time it really did lower my stress level. I was only to find out years later that Yoga purists very much look down on TM. They consider it the "McDonald's" of meditation (that's not viewed as a compliment!).
Somehow, I survived U of M, and, in my mid-twenties, decided to get serious about Yoga and "authentic" meditation, to improve my overall health and well-being. For a couple years, I would roll out my mat and practice hatha Yoga and Yoga meditation every morning without fail.
I could go on, but I really only want to make the point that I know a little something about Eastern meditation, AND IT IS NOTHING LIKE SCRIPTURAL MEDITATION ON THE WORD.
In Eastern, which is really Hindu, meditation, the basic objective is to empty the mind; to STOP THINKING; to blank one's thoughts and "bliss out."
In true Bible meditation, the idea is to FILL THE MIND WITH THE WORD OF GOD.
Eastern meditation aims at passivity, bringing all mental activity to a complete halt, letting go of all thoughts, and sinking into the "Cloud of Unknowing."
Biblical meditation is ACTIVE; we engage the mind with the Word of God, and "reason together" with the Spirit of the Living God.
The early Puritans valued it highly and practiced it avidly. So did Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the "Prince of Preachers." So did the leading minds of the early Plymouth Brethren.
Here's what some have written about meditation on the Word:
Meditation is a sort of middle duty between the Word and prayer, and hath respect to both. The Word feedeth meditation, and meditation feedeth prayer. These duties must always go hand in hand; meditation must follow hearing and precede prayer. To hear and not to meditate is unfruitful. We may hear and hear, but it is like putting a thing into a bag with holes . . . It is rashness to pray and not to meditate. What we take in by the Word we digest by meditation and let out by prayer. These three duties must be ordered that one may not jostle out the other. Men are barren, dry and sapless in their prayers for want of exercising themselves in holy thoughts. -- Puritan Preacher Thomas Manton
Is it not true that most of us do not stay long enough in the presence of God? We do not get quiet enough to let Him talk to us and reveal His mind to us. “Meditation,” someone has said, “is becoming a lost art in our day.” To meditate is really to chew the cud. Just as the cattle take their food in the rough and then ruminate and get the sweetness and the good out of it, so the believer needs to read the Word and then spend time quietly in the presence of God, going over it again and again, ruminating, chewing the cud, until it becomes truly precious to the heart. -- H. A. Ironside
Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to one’s self, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. -- J. I. Packer, Knowing God
To meditate is to contemplate and ponder on some passages in a quiet, unhurried manner. In this day of hurry, fury and worry, few of us spend much time in prayerful meditation. Too often we do a little bit of reading and a little bit of praying, convinced that we haven’t time for more. No wonder God seems so far away and silent. We seldom sit still long enough to give Him time to speak to us. If application is to be something other than a superficial giving assent to things we ought to do (but never do them), we need to practice meditation. -- Oletta Wald, The Joy of Discovery
There is a valid form of meditation, to be sure; meditation in its purest sense merely means to think upon something. And here it is necessary to explain what proper meditation on Scripture involves . . . What it does mean is studying the Scriptures and thinking upon what is read within the context of its overall message. No true believer is against meditating on Scripture in this fashion. This is, in fact, in keeping with Paul’s admonition to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Proper meditation upon Scripture has as its purpose the infusing of the Word of God properly understood into the consciousness of the believer. -- Al Dager, Media Spotlight Special Report
BOTH kinds of meditation I've talked about are SPIRITUAL. But only one will be blessed by the HOLY SPIRIT. Only one will lead you to a greater, more rewarding fellowship with and enjoyment of the True and Living God. Only one is Christian.
I would strongly encourage all who are reading this to begin to learn and practice Biblical meditation as soon as possible, if this is not already a habit with you.
The other kind of meditation I really think you'd best avoid.
More later, Lord willing!