Meditation: Why it’s not about clearing your mind

When you talk about meditation with someone you can often be talking about different things entirely. The other day in the paper there was an article about yoga which mentioned the benefits of a healthy mind and body.

As a Christian, I want to have a healthy mind and body. I want to bring glory to God through doing my best to be healthy because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. But for Christians to practice yoga is a misunderstanding about what the Bible means by meditation and the way the world sees meditation. They are two different things entirely.

In the article, it is briefly explained that yoga was developed as a way of preparing the body for meditation. And while it goes on to say that the Western practice of yoga is a set of postures, there is more to it than that. Even the instructor, while trying to deflect concerns, hints at the real reason behind yoga:

“Some are skeptical of yoga at first — some think it’s a religion or something, but are surprised to find the movements and breathing exercises help them.”
Frazier said she hopes her students derive some of the same benefits from practicing yoga she has.
“Yoga brought me a new compassion for my self,” she said. “Yoga is embracing what is, an acceptance of reality.”

The idea of embracing yourself and “acceptance of reality” is not harmless exercise talk but in fact echoing tenets of Hinduism and Buddhism. That, and the fact that yoga brings “compassion for my self” should sound alarms for any Christian. Is that what yoga and meditation brings? Compassion for ourselves? When I am alone with my thoughts, rather, this is what confronts me: I am not good. Consider what the Bible says about how we should meditate:

  • This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
  • but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law hemeditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)
  • I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. (Psalm 77:12)
  • I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15)
  • I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. (Psalm 143:5)

Notice in those verses what is lacking? Yes, any reference to self or self worth. Instead, we are to focus on God’s greatness and his majesty. Why? Because only He can save us from our terrible conditions. “Clearing” your minds won’t make it go away, it’ll just mask the problem.

While yoga may not be advertised as a religion class, by going through the routine you get the same effect. Even in the “non-religious” Western world. Christians should beware.

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