Meditation 101: A Simple Solution to Quiet Your Mind
This time last year, my mental health turned a corner for the better. I’ve struggled with clinical anxiety and depression for a long time, but I got serious about managing it. I ate a balanced diet, took medication, exercised regularly, and went to therapy. These lifestyle adjustments gave me floaties, so I didn’t have to tread water all the time.
Mentally, I was feeling better than ever. But physically, things were…not great.
I was in a constant state of fight-or-flight. My body would shake for hours a day. I hid my hands around friends so they wouldn’t notice. My chest felt heavy. I struggled to sleep. WebMD and I became best friends. I’ll spare you from the list of diseases I thought I had.
I shared these symptoms with my psychiatrist in total confusion. How was my mental health improving but my physical health declining? Clearly, my mind and body were disconnected. The visible body was speaking up for the invisible soul.
My doctor pointed out what my lifestyle changes had in common. While they were necessary and helpful, all of them involved me doing something. He urged me to add in the opposite—do nothing twice a day.
Every morning and night, I was to meditate.
The Power of Silence
At first, I was skeptical about meditation: I didn’t know where to start, and I doubted it would help.
The first night I tried it out, I thought about Jesus in the wilderness. He spent forty days in solitude?! I could barely sit with myself for 5 minutes.
But in isolation, he found strength to fight temptation and connection with his father.
If Jesus needed to spend time in silence, how much more do we?
It’s no surprise that we are all chronically overstimulated. We’re addicted to distraction. As John Mark Comer says,
“This new normal of hurried digital distraction is robbing us of the ability to be present. Present to God. Present to other people. Present to all that is good, beautiful, and true in our world. Even present to our own souls.”
No wonder it was hard for me to meditate. The most radical treatment for this hurry sickness is to slow down.
Misconceptions and Benefits of Meditation
Don’t let its current trendiness (and related cultural baggage) fool you. Meditation is the simple, ancient practice of being still. The goal is not just to be quiet. It’s to be intentional with your attention. When you do this, you grow in your awareness of the present moment and of God’s presence with you.
Your amazing brain has the ability to change in response to its environment. When an action is repeated, the neural pathways strengthen.
Think of it this way: When you move to a new city, you need Google maps to find the grocery store. After a few trips, you learn which streets to take. Eventually, you don’t need the GPS at all.
Similarly, your brain learns which neural pathways to take based on your repeated actions.
The more I meditated, the more I believed this was true. In situations where I used to panic, I felt calm. The driver in my brain started to take a new route.
I had hoped meditation would help me physically and mentally. But I didn't expect it to help me spiritually, as well. However, I shouldn’t be shocked that it did.
God created us, mind and body, in his image.
Your body is part of your soul. An eternal part of who you are. Therefore, you’ll miss out on deeper union with Christ when your mind, body, and spirit are fragmented.
Maybe it’s just me, but God seems harder to find in the noise. Though he is present with us in every moment, it takes silent time with him to remember we’re not alone.
Don’t let a culture of hurry rob you of this gift.
How to Get Started
Help your mind, body, and spirit to get on the same page. Meditation is a step you can take to meet with God and reintegrate your soul.
Get started with this simple structure, modeled by Dave Cover on his podcast, Christian Meditation for A Bigger Life. Once you learn, you can meditate at home, before a big meeting, in the car, any time you need a dose of calm.
Here are ten steps for practicing meditation that quiets your mind and focus your heart on God:
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Take a few deep breaths through your nose, filling your belly.
- Hold the breath.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth.
- As you continue this rhythm of breathing, begin to focus your body. Notice where you are holding stress or tension.
- On each deep inhale, focus on one part of your body, starting at your head and moving down to your toes.
- As you exhale, relax that area. Loosen the muscles. Imagine the weight begin to disappear. Continue this pattern down your body.
Want a guide to a full-body meditation? Listen to this podcast episode led by Dave Cover
- Take a deep belly breath. As you exhale, let your whole body feel limp. Imagine you are floating in water. Feel the stress, tension, anxiety, insecurity, anger, or frustration drain out of you.
- As you continue deep breathing, focus on God’s presence with you in the present moment. It’s just you and God.
- Say to yourself: I am calm and secure in God’s love and care for me in this moment.
The more you focus on God’s presence with you, feeling his love in your body, the more you will integrate your whole self with him in every moment. He will fill every cell in your body and every thought in your mind with his peace as you trust in him.
The first step is to be still.
Fight for moments of solitude in your day by focusing on God’s presence.
On Christian Meditation for a Bigger Life, Dave Cover guides you through Christian meditation to help you recalibrate your mind and body.