With life sometimes feeling like it is going 100 mph, it is necessary for our bodies to slow down and our minds to quiet. According to Artofliving.org, Harvard has confirmed that meditation reduces stress, fosters clear thinking, and increases our capacity for empathy and compassion.
For beginners, the first step in starting to meditate is creating a space. Theology teacher John Norman said the best place to start meditating is to go somewhere outside. Norman said, “[Somewhere] where there is little interference. Walk or sit and soak it in. Breathe in the peacefulness and beauty of nature…. You’ve got to become comfortable with removing distractions and I think that is the beginning of meditation.… We are often too worried about the past and for a brief moment we must set that aside.”
Norman fills his space with writings that he meditates on. However, meditation is not about reading pages and pages of books, but it is about taking in a small part and reflecting on that. Norman added that, “Pope Francis talks about serene attentiveness and that means that in each moment of our day we must be fully present,” and that applies especially to meditation. Meditation is about quieting your mind and being fully present in the moment.
Meditation can take many forms, like cycling through a nature center. Meditation can be for a long or short time, and can involve sitting still or can be active. Norman recommends that before leaving the bedroom, sit quietly, open up a Gospel and ask the Lord to help understand. This starts the day with a positive interaction with the Lord and provides something to reflect on for the rest of the day.
For Norman, meditation is “an openness to listen to the sacred and divine and rest in the Spirit of the Lord.” In the morning, he always has time set aside for prayer, meditation, and journaling. For example, he will take a scripture passage, mentally reflect on it, and ask the Lord to speak to him through the passage. This time with the Lord in the morning helps him give full attention to the people surrounding him the rest of the day. The morning has become a habit for Norman. “It is as important to me as my breakfast…. It is my way of being centered and grounded in the Lord and navigate through rough waters.”
“The way we live now, there is a danger because both adults and young people are affected by technology and this often hurts our ability to be still in the Lord,” Norman said.