You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
An Epidemic of Stress
We all experience stress, and statistics — even old ones — say that up to 75% of all visits to healthcare providers are related to stress.1
What is stress? Stress can be defined as “any intrinsic or extrinsic stimulus that evokes a biologic response.” Depending on the type, timing and the severity of the stimulus, the effect on the body (and the mind) can range from minor imbalances to life-threatening.2
In our not so distant past, acute stress was a problem that by definition came and went. The bodily effect also came and went almost as rapidly. The stressors that we have today are much more incessant and their effects more chronic.
Ancient Answer for a Modern Problem
Meditation has been well-studied and found to mitigate the detrimental physical and mental effects of stress.3,4
Meditation means to focus on something. You should focus on something other than your stressors (AKA problems). Focusing unnecessarily on the problem only tends to magnify it. Instead, we should focus on the solution, God, the answers found in His word, and in His presence.
Psalm 46:10 admonishes us to be still and know that He is God. It is more precisely translated, “let be and be still and know that I am God.”
Christian meditation is characterized by the active use of one’s mind to know God. One form of Christian meditation that has been around since the 4th century AD is lectio divina, or sacred reading. The focus of lectio divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. It is broken down into 4 stages:
- Lectio (reading): A person finds a biblical passage and deliberately reads it, extracting as much from it as possible.
- Meditatio (discursive meditation): One ponders the text.
- Oratio (prayer): One talks to God about the reading, asking Him to reveal the truth.
- Contemplatio (contemplation): One simply rests in the presence of the Lord, listening for His truth.
When your mind wanders, don’t beat yourself up. Gently bring your thoughts back to the original focus. Throughout this process, I would encourage you to breathe in deeply through your nose, filling your belly and exhale fully through your mouth.
Our meditation practice should be a daily occurence.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
How do you deal with stress? Do you have a specific practice of the presence of God? Please let us know below.
- Rollin McCraty, “Stress and Emotional Health” (paper presented at The Steroid Hormones Clinical Correlates: Therapeutic and Nutritional Considerations, Chicago, Il, Feb 25, 1996
- D. Orme-Johnson, Psychosomatic Medicine 49 (1987): 493-507.
- R. Davidson, J. Kabat-Zinn, et al, “Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation,” Psychosomatic Medicine 65 (2003): 564-570.