Prayer and Meditation

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"We pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion...Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as "a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, contented reflection on some religious theme."  Meditation is a form of prayer. Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord."
President David O. Mckay (Read more of what he has to say about meditation here.)

Why pray and meditate?

I have prayed, and been around others who pray most all my life. There is power in every prayer, and God hears and answers each and every one. Yet once a prayer is offered up, the process is not complete. we must take time to listen and let the love of God wash over us.  In my desire for a better connection to God I found meditation. We all enter various levels of meditative states throughout the day, but there is great power in a consistent, intentional practice of meditation.  I have found that prayer coupled with meditation have formed a direct, personal connection to Jesus Christ, my Savior.

I find nothing more satisfying than growing in harmony with God, which is gaining a knowledge of Him, so I can emulate Him. I believe this is the purpose of life, to come to know Christ that we may be saved. The Prophet Joseph Smith said in Lectures on Faith,

"These teaching of the Savior most clearly show unto us the nature of salvation, and what he (the Savior)  proposed unto the human family when he proposed to save them-that he proposed to make them like unto himself, and he was like the Father, the great prototype of all saved beings; and for any portion of the human family to be assimilated into their likeness is to be saved; and to be unlike them is to be destroyed; and on this hinge turns the door of salvation."

How do we come to be like someone whom we do not know? Someone we have no personal experience with?

This is why I meditate. Because I have found through prayer and meditation, a rich, personal relationship with Jesus, and He is mighty to save.  He is the only one through which salvation comes. No person, no company, no object, has power to save. Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Mosiah 4:8 And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of;

How I Pray

 There are many many ways to pray and to meditate. Read in the bible dictionary under prayer. Standing, arms out stretched, laying down, kneeling down, prostrate, etc. The current model of prayer to fold arms and bow the head was originally started to help little children focus during a prayer, so I have been told. There are times we pray certain ways in specific settings. I am focusing my thoughts on personal prayer.

I find it very refreshing to pray in an open, receptive position. Body position does have an effect on our  feelings and thoughts, and I have found when my body is positioned open and receptive, that I feel open and receptive to God. It can be difficult to do so when struggling with feelings contrary to humility, but I find it all the more helpful to bring me to a submissive and humble state. The thought of a beggar comes to mind. Someone who open handed, humbly is asking for whatever can assist them. This is what I want to imitate. I want to be open to what God will tell me or give me, because it is always the best. This quote is helpful...

"Is not the cupped hand recognized everywhere as the beggar's petition? Is it not a symbol of beseeching? Does it not remind us of how we look to our Father in Heaven for all we have? In this simple physical symbol we see how Christ's power to ordain and control power, principalities, thrones, dominions, under His almighty hand is linked inevitably to openness, the uncontrolling, and petitioning handwhich has been lovingly extended in cupping shape. His hand is never clenched, tight, controlling. An open hand is a sign of both Christ and His true messengers. They like Him, will show forth love, openness, and the kind of gentle petitioning and beckoning that is seen in the beggar's cupped hand for us to follow. They will never claim authority except to bless or ordain." (Come Let Us Adore Him)

 Sometimes I dance my prayers. Sometimes I sing my prayers. I find any way that connects me to Jesus is invaluable. There is power and beauty in free movement and expression in the privacy of prayer.  I very often free write my prayers onto paper and let that open up into pure communication with God. This has been helpful when prayer seems stagnant, or unfruitful.  Be creative with how you connect to God, for there are many ways to not only speak to Him, but to open your heart to Him.

Prayer naturally leads me into meditation, or vice versa, meditation opens the doors for real communion. I try and follow what I feel would be most helpful for me to connect from day to day, but with some meditation techniques it is very beneficial to daily practice the same meditation, at least for 40 days. Meditation and prayer are not an end in themselves, but a vehicle to take a person into the presence of God, where our real identity is clear, where God's love, peace, healing, comfort, freedom, strength, blessing, power, mind and will are. It is when we connect to Him that His promised blessings flow. This is all within us, it is our own personal experience with Deity.

How I Meditate
Initially I thought some forms of meditation were too confusing and complicated. I began my meditation journey learning from LDS Yogi Phil McLemore in an article called "The Yoga of Christ". I then contacted Him and attended some wonderful workshops.  My eyes were opened to the need for me to really connect to God, and break out of my current habitual prayers, which by the way I did not realize that is what they had become.  I then read a beautiful book "The Gift of Giving Life" which had an essay about meditation and childbirth. I contacted the author, Felice Austin, and found a whole new form of meditation, Kundalini yoga and meditation. I took her 6 week introduction class, and although felt like this was way out of my "comfortable-traditional box" I meditated onward because I had received an answer from God to continue doing so, and that 'by there fruits, ye shall know them.' And boy did the fruits come. I am currently taking her Christ centered Rebirthing Class, and I could not recommend it enough. There are just so many resources out there. I have named only a few I have enjoyed through the years.

With all meditation and energy healing techniques, you take it to the Lord and find His guidance. There are teachers and 'healers' out there who are not Christ centered, and there are many who are. There are some meditative practices that do not resonate or call out to me, and there are others that do. I have found that Christ leads me to learn what I need so that I can better commune with Him.

I have been led to learn and practice multiple forms. Among my favorites are Kirtan Kriya meditation,  breathing exercises like Breath of Fire and Alternate Nostril Breathing, Breath Awareness Meditation, Guided Meditations and many different Kundalini Yoga Kriyas. Some of my favorite guided meditations and teachings are by Tara Brach, she has tons of free audios here.
She also has lots of great resources on her website. I also really enjoy the meditations and information in the book and CD titled "Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body's Wisdom" by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana.

I find that as my relationship with God deepens, and expands that I find myself intuitively seeing and feeling what it is that will bring me into greatest union with Deity. Sometimes I visualize a color that comes to mind, or I feel a place in my body or spirit that needs love, or I look inward and a beautiful place is created all around me where I then can worship and talk to not only God the Father, but others who are on the other side of the veil doing the will of the Father. Gods capacity to teach us and converse with us is only limited by our own beliefs as Christ spoke about in Ether 4 ( I especially like verses 12-15). We are kept within the veil because of unbelief. God is anxious and desirous for us to come through the veil to learn from Him and rest in His embrace. Our knowledge and experience with God is dependent upon our "diligence and faithfulness in seeking after Him, until like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses they shall obtain faith in God, and power with him to behold him face to face."(Lecture 1:55)  This is discussed in further detail in Lectures of Faith.

The point being, there are many meditation techniques out there. Find the ones that you resonate with, and let the practice of meditation bring you into greater unity with God. Some techniques really deal with specific energy systems of the body, or have specific healing outcomes. Many of the Kundalini Yoga Kriyas have been providential for me in removing stumbling blocks and false beliefs.  I try my best to follow God's direction as things come into or out of my life, out of no coincidence. The more meditation 'tools' I have had in my understanding, the easier it has been for me to be aided in difficult moments when I really need the assistance of God.

A wonderful blessing that comes from regular prayer and meditation is that it becomes easier to connect to God in every experience that comes in your life, good times and difficult times. Why? Because you begin to have a rich history of personal experience with God and His majesty.  God no longer is an idea or a theory or someone you hear about or talk about in a Sunday school lesson, but the mystery of God, namely who He is and what He does actually begins to be unfolded to you. And nothing, absolutely nothing is as satisfying (or fun!) as growing in harmony with God.

Will you share your insights into how you like to Pray and Meditate? I really find value in new insights and ideas. Please share!