The fruits of meditation
In our mind we often restrict the aim and purpose of meditation to a way of relaxing our surface self and dealing with our stressful lives. The focussed attention on our prayer word, our mantra does indeed do exactly that. And that is good too!
But meditation as a spiritual discipline, as prayer, is much more than that. It is about being transformed into the person God needs us to be, by having the wisdom of our deeper self integrated with the capabilities of the ego. By silencing the everyday thoughts of our surface self and by focusing our attention on God, we are opening ourselves to the work of the love of God in the centre of our being. Our prayer word, ‘Maranatha’, then becomes a powerful call of love. The effects of that, the response to that, are totally life-changing: it makes us aware of the spiritual dimension, and that experience in turn adds a contemplative dimension to our way of being and of living. The best way of describing the effects of this and the qualities it brings forth in us we find in St Paul’s words in Gal 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness and self-control. These are not qualities we can achieve by our own effort in our daily life, but these are signs of what the Lord has already achieved in us.
“It is my personal conviction that meditation can add a dimension of incredible richness to your life.....meditation is the great integrative power in your life, giving depth and perspective to everything you are and everything you do....the reason for this is that you are beginning to live out of the power of the love of God...present in our hearts in all its immensity, in all its simplicity, in the Spirit of Jesus.” (John Main)
This definitely does not mean that you should evaluate your meditation: “Am I more relaxed? Am I more patient?” This is thinking of meditation in ‘ego’ terms, in terms of the surface self, in terms of ‘achievements’. On the contrary, what we are trying to do by focussing on our mantra is to let go off the ego and its pre-occupations, especially its need for esteem in the eyes of others. We are learning "to leave self (the ego) behind." We need to leave our surface self temporarily behind to become aware that we are much more than that.
“In meditation we seek to disassemble the barriers we have set up around ourselves, cutting us off from our consciousness of the presence of Jesus within our hearts....once we enter into the human consciousness of Jesus, we begin to see as he sees, to love as he loves, to understand as he understands, and to forgive as he forgives.” (John Main ‘The hunger for depth and meaning’ )
The weekly meditation group fulfils an important role on this transformation, as John Main always stressed. By meeting and praying together weekly we encourage and support each other, creating community and connectedness, which mirrors love of self, love of neighbour, love of God as one reality.
For further help with setting up and leading groups, please look at the ‘Christian Meditation Groups’ Website in English, Spanish and French, based on the book ‘A Pearl of Great Price’ by Laurence Freeman