There is sometimes confusion on the differences between prayer and meditation. It can mean the same thing but could have differences and meaning, depending on the individual or the faith.
The Oxford dictionary defines prayer as “the relating of the self or soul to God in trust, penitence, praise, petition, and purpose, either individually or corporately”.
In the biblical stories God is perceived as an external creator, deity, or strict father who punishes or rewards. Natural or personal catastrophes were perceived as punishment where penitence had to be sought or sacrifices had to be made.
The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages was primarily an act of penitence. Today the pilgrim to Santiago reflects many of the changes in the collective on the spiritual level.
Prayer is a direct conversation with the “universe”, “God,” or the “creator”. From a very early age my grandmother taught me how to pray. It was first a prayer for the well-being and protection of family members who were named by name, especially if they were going through a difficult time.
Praying for the well-being or healing of others is a way of transcending the ego and the direct needs of self. There have been events in my life where I even had angry conversations with God.
“Why did this have to happen to me?” “If you are out there why are you allowing such bad things in the world to happen.” It is something many people were asking after the 9/11 terror attacks. “Why does God allow evil? Why did he not prevent all those people from dying.”
In what is the eternal polarity of life there will always be good and evil. God has given man the freedom of choice. Where there is the evil of division, incitement of hatred, and destruction of life there is absence of God just as much as there is presence of God in unconditional love, compassion, kindness and generosity.
God cannot be explained. God can only be experienced.
In essence meditation is experiential spirituality. It is going into a quiet space and allowing God or the voice of the universe to whisper to the soul.
I have experienced the most intense spiritual experience just after some of those “flat on the ground” moments. On my second Camino pilgrimage walk I got hopelessly lost in the Pyrenees mountains during a massive thunderstorm. It was early May. I was badly prepared wearing summer hiking clothing at a time of year when subzero temperatures at night, often claimed the lives of hikers. After wandering about aimlessly in the dark for hours, close to the point of complete surrender, I noticed a light in the distance that finally led me to a village and safety.
When faced with a problem or having to make a difficult decision it helps to go into silence or to take a time out for introspection. The answer can come sometimes in the most unexpected of ways: A passing remark by a stranger, an image, a dream, a sudden thought or idea where you instantly know what needs to be done.
We are living at a time where the senses are being bombarded with distractions that pull the mind into the confusion of all directions. Meditation calms and centers the mind. There is no right or wrong on how to meditate.
One of the most popular forms is the mindfulness meditation originating from Buddhism. Attention is paid to breathing in the sitting position. When the mind inevitably starts wandering, attention is focused back to the breathing. In the Zen tradition everything can be meditation if done with awareness. There is a saying: When I eat I eat. When I talk I talk. When I walk, I walk. When I listen, I listen.
In the walking meditation every movement of the foot is connected to an inhaling and exhaling breath, while at the same time opening the senses to the surroundings in awareness of “presence.”
As you learn to meditate while sitting or walking you become aware of the importance of standing guard at the doorway of the mind. What you think you become.
Going into dialogue with that inner truth, whether in prayer or meditation, helps answer that age old question. Where do I come from? What am I doing? Where am I going.
Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker
One more thing…
You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store. Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.
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