"There's something you never see," I thought, "A parent really engaged in conversation with her kids!" I reflected on the importance of making eye contact with our children, giving them our undivided attention.
As I drew closer, however, my musings were interrupted by a dose of reality. The mom was, in fact, absorbed not in her children, but in her smartphone. Her kids were sitting on the bench, staring vacantly ahead. What I was actually observing was a prime example of 21st century distracted parenting.
We live in a distracted age. So many things scream for our attention, and now, with the introduction of smartphones, tablets, and so on, we actually carry the main source of our distraction around with us. There's no escape.
The constant flow of interruptions bombarding our thought process can cause tremendous stress, and sends many of us scrambling for some relief. The pursuit of zen, meditation, mindfulness- something, anything, to help us regain our focus and quiet the many thoughts bouncing around in our minds.
The practice of meditation is becoming quite the "thing" in pop culture. It's an ancient concept, of course, and it would seem that eastern religions largely claim meditation as their own.
Scripture, however, is full of references to meditation, and God isn't silent on the distraction problem facing our society.
"Meditate within your heart on your bed,
and be still."
The key issue in meditation, however, is what we're meditating on. Are we sitting quietly, focused on ourselves, focused on our own thoughts, viewing ourselves as the center of the universe, searching for self-actualization?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines meditation this way: "to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness." Awareness, we should ask, of what?
If we step back in time a bit, we can get another Webster's definition for meditation. Here we have the 1828 definition: "To dwell on any thing in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind; appropriately but not exclusively used of pious contemplation, or a consideration of the great truths of religion. His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Ps.1."
You see, we don't define spirituality. God, as the creator, the giver of our spirits, does. Feeling a sense of heightened spiritual awareness only benefits us if we are more aware of God's presence, His interaction with us and the events in our lives.
What does this sort of meditation do for us practically? It brings peace.
"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You."
If our minds are distracted, if our focus is blurred, the stress that we feel is the cry of our hearts for peace. Paul, in Philippians, instructs us to turn our worried thoughts over to the Lord.
" and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Then, he gets specific about what we should be thinking about:
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure,
whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—
meditate on these things."
Today, we can take time to turn our thoughts to the Lord and His words. We can be mindful of His plans and purposes. And, as we meditate on Him, we will find peace.