Research has shown that meditation helps strengthen the default mode network (DMN). The DMN involves many areas of the brain as well as their interconnectivity. They include the hippocampus, parietal lobe, and prefrontal cortex. When the mind wanders, we often ruminate over past problems or have anxiety about the future. We can get stuck in a default mode of living in the past or obsessing about our future unless we train our minds to be more present.
Meditation is an excellent way to help us be more present and mindful. Some Christians are quite apprehensive about meditation because it is associated with Buddhism. Yet, the Bible is full of references to meditation. There are many different ways to meditate. We can meditate on God’s word. Another form of meditation is called Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is an exceptional tool to help find and strengthen our connection to God’s presence.[i] Living in and with gratitude of God’s presence with us in each moment will change our self-awareness, it will strengthen our attention, decrease the stress response, and gear us more toward love and compassion. All of these ways rewire the brain.
Here is a simplified version Centering Prayer:
- Sit comfortably with eyes closed. Relax and let yourself be quiet. Revel in God’s love and presence surrounding you.
- Choose a sacred word, phrase, or passage from scripture that helps you remember God’s love and presence with you. Let the phrase or scripture be present to you.
- If you find that you are distracted simply return to the word, phrase, or scripture.
- Whenever you are aware of any other thoughts, feelings or images, simply return to your word or phrase that anchors you to God’s love.
- Practice the above for 20 minutes per day. You can set a gentle alarm timer to help yourself know your time.
Centering Prayer is not meant to simply be a 20-minute exercise, but a time to reframe our minds completely so that every moment of our lives we can invite and dwell in God’s presence. The more you practice Centering Prayer, the more you will feel God working in and through you; the more you will prime yourself to receive God’s riches that are hardwired into your being.
[i] “Centering Prayer,” Contemplative Outreach, accessed January 2, 2019, https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/category/category/centering-prayer.