Trail running… my first real introduction to meditation. The biggest difference being if you happen to follow a rabbit trail of thoughts—there is a really strong chance you will bite it and hit the ground.
I can’t even remember why I wanted to start running trails. However, I will never forget the miles of running on jagged rock and mud—and aide stations that have Nutella pita sandwiches and M&Ms—and the necessary focus to what was in front of your feet.
I did not make a connection between the two until my trail running days had slowed down, and I had began to slowly integrate a meditative prayer time into my day. It was a bit of a ah-ha moment when I realized the same discipline was necessary, even within such different surroundings.
As a follower of Christ, I had a hard time viewing meditation as anything that could be biblical. Usually my mind would envision an image that include crossed legs and a third eye. Crossed legs are fine, especially if I'm sitting on a pillow. However, I have no desire to seek my own truth when I know that apart from Christ, my truth is 100% fallible. So, I have set some parameters in how I practice meditation.
- God's Word. My time of meditative prayer begins with His word. Unlike myself, He is all-knowing.
- God is the ultimate authority in my life, therefore I practice finding quiet in my own mind and heart, so I can hear His more clearly. One of my favorite Osward Chambers quotes is, "God can not expound to you until you get through the busy noise of your head, and are alone with Him." My head is full of noise. Whether it is what is on the agenda for the day, or the mistakes I made yesterday—I need quiet—or I will fill all my alone moments with Him with what I think needs to be happening in my world.
- Intentional. I am intentionally setting time aside to be still before Him. I still remember the first time the verses when God told Moses to be still before parting the Red Sea... the Egyptian army closing in, the Israelites questioning Moses as to why they even left Egypt— waiting for him to make things happen, and Moses told them to stand firm. Be still. And then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back. (Exodus 14)
- Patient. Learning to recognize the noise when it comes up, and try to gently set it aside isn't an easy practice. Nor does it fit in with the pace of our culture. Give yourself some grace and just keep trying. Some days, if I can keep my mind focused on one Bible verse through out my time, then I will just stay with that verse. Some days I have to focus on my inhales and exhales and recite verses as they come to my mind. Which leads me to my last personal parameter.
- I only look inward, to see where I am not looking upward. Christ is my true north, and no matter how much effort I put into my journey with Him, I still can get caught up in my own expectations and what I believe to be best. When I know where I struggle, I know where I am tempted to settle for less then God has planned.
Learning to know and trust God, beyond what we possibly already think we know, requires focused dedication. We don't have to clear our entire schedules, but we may need to re-priorize some of our moments within our day to make it happen. And it is so worth it.