By Julia Callahan
Meditation is an ancient practice that originated within religious communities. Today, it has taken to mainstream secular culture; however, in many ways, there are direct links between meditation and prayer. Prayer is a moment in time in which you are able to be truly present and talk to God, just as meditating keeps you grounded in the present moment while you reflect on yourself. As researchers increase studies on the benefits of meditation, the practice has infiltrated its way into businesses and mental healthcare in the hopes that those who practice it will reap the benefits of becoming more productive, creative, and happier.
This quarter, I’ve been taking a class entitled “Mindfulness, Communication, and Entrepreneurship.” Each week, we take time to learn a new mindfulness practice and to apply it in our lives. As the title of this class suggests, the main focus is to center the benefits of meditation towards a career goal. While this aspect of the class is certainly beneficial for aiding in my professional development, I find that meditative techniques can also help supplement my prayer habits and help me have a more positive outlook on life.
One of my favorite meditations that we learned about in this class was the “Love and Kindness Meditation.” If you’d like to try it, here is the link my class used: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM
This meditation has you direct a mantra towards yourself and then to others in your life, like individuals you feel incredibly close to and individuals you barely know. The mantra is as follows: “May you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be loved.” These words resonate with me, and I have since been inspired to incorporate them into my prayers.
As Catholics, it is important to be kind to ourselves. We must remember that we are part of God’s family and are always deserving of His peace, forgiveness, and love. It is also imperative that we thank God for the blessings in our lives, like the people we hold close to our heart and sometimes take for granted. We should prayerfully wish them peace, too. Perhaps most importantly, we must remember to love our neighbors, even those who we do not know, even those who are different than us, even those who the rest of the world seems to ignore.
Prayer isn’t just a time to ask for our own needs. By asking for God to look out for others, we are in turn filling our own hearts. In being truly present and in the moment during prayer, we can do this more fully. And with that, may you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be loved.