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Catholic meditation is different from meditation techniques familiar to most people. In eastern traditions, one seeks to empty the mind of distracting thoughts to seek inner calm and a peaceful relaxation. All over the world, practitioners of different religions and cultures engage in meditation to reach a deeper connection with their faiths.The Catholic technique is active, engaging prayer and seeking a deeper understanding and connection with the Christian God.
Most people think of prayer as asking for a favor or a particular outcome. Catholic meditation is more akin to contemplation. What Christians call "The Joyful, Glorious and Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary" follows Christ’s life from the Annunciation of his birth through his crucifixion. As people say the prayers of the Rosary, they concentrate on these incidents. For many Catholics, the Rosary is the only meditation they practice regularly.
Catholic meditation focuses on carefully chosen topics or scriptures that help focus thoughts and prayers. They can be found online, where organizations and church programs may provide them, or the person meditating may select a few topics individually from scripture readings. Many Catholics like to follow the monthly liturgy of their church. Keeping a prayer journal can be a good way to not only remember which subjects have been visited but also track the progression of religious understanding.
Those who pray regularly or who have tried eastern meditation have a special place in their home set aside to do so. Whatever place that is, whether the garden or a room with a comfortable chair, candles and other appointments, it should be suitable for Catholic meditation. A dedicated time each day spent in contemplation and prayer has been shown to relieve stress and help restore faith. The traditional posture is seated with hands either palm down in the lap or folded, and head bowed slightly in a respectful way.
There are four steps most people follow when engaging in structured Catholic meditation. First they imagine that they are in the presence of God and place themselves within the divine. They ask for assistance in contemplating their meditation subject and in achieving deeper understanding and connection with the spiritual. At this point, they concentrate on the scriptural passage and explore its meaning and how that may relate to the questions they have in their own lives. Finally, they say a prayer of thanksgiving for guidance they may have received.
Members of most religions practice some form of meditation. The most familiar are Buddhists, but the Sikhs and Hindus of India, as well as the Jewish and Native Americans also engage in contemplative activities. They seek not only psychic peace, but a greater awareness of both their respective faiths and the human condition at large.