Reclaiming meditation: Finding biblical peace in the storm 

Jesse Ross finds peace while enjoying the outdoor air and exploring the Biology Trails. Sunday, February 13, 2022. (Photo illustration by: Xander Ordinola)
Jesse Ross finds peace while enjoying the outdoor air and exploring the Biology Trails. Sunday, February 13, 2022. (Photo illustration by: Xander Ordinola)

Written by: Kiana Oliver

Editor’s note: The following article is written by a counseling graduate student in partnership with Counseling Services and the Southern Accent.

Here’s a statement we can all agree with: We want to feel less stressed. Whether you’re an undergraduate student who’s trying to survive those prerequisite classes or a graduate student with a new professional role to balance, you want to have more peace in your busy life. 

If I told you there is a technique that has been scientifically shown to reduce anxiety and depression, you’d probably be very interested. However, upon hearing the word “meditation,” there might be an awkward pause in our conversation. As Christians, our aversions towards meditation stem from its secular beliefs. 

While writing this article, I’m reading meditation guides that contain terms such as “life force,” “mantra,” “transcendental” and other words that don’t sound biblical. As a result, we often avoid the topic of meditation or completely reject its practice. But what if we were to reclaim meditation as a positive way to reduce our stress and strengthen our relationship with God?  

Before we start rebuilding the connection between Christianity and meditation, let’s look at the research. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2014, researchers from Johns Hopkins University reviewed nearly 19,000 meditation studies to find 47 trials that met their mental health/psychiatric conditions criteria. The study by Dr. Madhav Goyal and others concluded that mindfulness meditation programs might lower levels of anxiety and depression. 

In 2018, Heckenberg and others also found mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are effective in reducing cortisol, which is your body’s primary stress hormone. In other words, MBIs show promising results in improving symptoms of stress. 

Knowing these positive benefits, here are some ways we can incorporate our faith into meditation. 

In 2015, Thomas Frederick and Kristen M. White from the California Baptist University proposed that mindfulness meditations can be adapted into the Christian faith. These therapeutic strategies would include scripture, breathing, body scans and loving-kindness meditation. Instead of focusing on their life forces or transcendence, the researchers found that Christians can benefit from mindfulness by surrendering themselves to God’s will or presence. 

If you’re still feeling skeptical or you want to learn more about Christian meditation, check out J. Dana Trent’s book, “One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation.” To summarize her journey with meditation, Trent writes, “What I had been practicing every day on the cushion not only shaped me spiritually and allowed me space to hear God but also made God feel close and more readily accessible in times of duress.” 

Regardless of how you choose to practice faith-based meditation, remember Colossians 3:2-4 and set your mind on God to find peace in the storm. 

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