InFocus Series: Meet Edward O’Connor, New Zealand

I’ve been practicing Christian meditation for about 14 months now. It has completely transformed my life. I followed a Buddhist practice for a couple of years before returning to Christianity and remain strongly influenced by eastern traditions. On paper, Christian meditation is no different to other iterations: you sit down, close your eyes, and hone your attention on something other than your thoughts. This is not an easy thing to do. When Looking at the WCCM logo I see that the right hand (inner) dove is dipping into the same pool of water that is available to everyone, regardless of your religion. It is the universality of meditation that makes it so important in our fragmented times. You cannot argue during meditation for the same reason you cannot argue underwater. Trying to separate different forms of meditation is like trying to wall off different sections of the ocean; you’re going to waste a lot of time and potentially injure yourself in the process. Dying is what we fear the most, but in my experience it’s rebirth that
causes all the pain.

Coming back to Christianity has been a painful experience for me. It started with a profound, unexpected, and undeniably Christian experience in the middle of a Buddhist retreat. This led to a drastic realignment of how I perceived myself and my experience of the world. I thought that I was in control of my life and I suddenly knew this to be an illusion. I struggled with this for some time and may still be floundering had I not stumbled across the School of Meditation website and started a regular Christian meditation practice. I should make a correction: it hasn’t been Christian meditation that has changed my life, but meditating within a Christian context. This is why the left hand (outer) dove is just as important as the right; it’s the one that symbolizes your orientation to the world and other people.

I see now that my Buddhism was not actually Buddhism at all. It was a way I could have a spiritual practice while keeping genuine spirituality at arm’s length. My inner dove was dipping into the pool while the outer dove was focused on controlling reality to match my personal preferences. I was orientated towards getting what I wanted and furthering my own agenda. I had weaponize meditation as a way to ‘mindfully’ live a self centered existence. My Christian meditation journey has been focused on developing a relationship between my inner and outer dove. My daily practice brings myself in line with the present moment and asks what is required of me right now? This has been a gradual process of letting go, and I feel like I’ve only just begun. Starting a Christian meditation practice has coincided with me leaving my job, moving to the city, completing a Masters of Writing, and travelling to Bonnevaux. I’d never have done any of these things had I not trusted in God to guide me down the path, and I’d never have trusted God had I not been meditating.

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