It is incumbent upon you to ponder in your hearts and meditate upon His words, and humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause. These are the things that will make of you signs of guidance unto all mankind, and brilliant stars shining down from the all-highest horizon, and towering trees in the Abhá Paradise. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 241)
Recently someone on a 12-step meeting challenged me about how I meditate, claiming that the only legitimate form of meditation is to focus on the breath. I’ve certainly tried that kind of sitting meditation in the past, but it only caused agitation and even panic attacks. I always thought there was something wrong with me, until recently several articles serendipitously crossed my path indicating that this is a frequent problem for those who’ve experienced trauma, particularly at a young age. Mindfulness meditation can reopen these old wounds, and without appropriate support, those who’ve experienced trauma can easily find themselves flooded by flashbacks of deeply painful experiences. Learning this helped me to accept that the ways I meditate are legitimate.
So what is legitimate meditation for Baha’is? For years, I considered anything I do to improve the ways I know and worship God to be my meditation. Sometimes it might be through listening to my YouTube playlist of Bahá’í Prayers and Writings set to music; or doing yoga or mindfully walking in the forest and hugging a tree or journaling my heart out (or even napping, where I pour my heart out to God). All of these help me to slow down long enough to listen to the quiet, gentle and loving voice of God, guiding my movement and my stillness.
On the heels of this awareness, I came across a discussion in a Bahá’í group on Facebook, about how Bahá’ís meditate and lots of ideas were generated but not one person put forward the above quote and I wondered why. It seems to answer the question once and for all. Anything else we do can only be secondary to pondering and meditating on the words of God AND humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause.
Knowing the meaning of Bahá’í meditation, I can relax into it, and I am grateful!
What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation? I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!
If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God