Meditation: and the science
[25:64] In the privacy of the night, they meditate on their Lord, and fall prostrate.
First, it would help to understand what is meant by meditation. The dictionary describes meditation as the act of thinking deeply about something. While the practice can take on many forms, the one technique that seems most beneficial, and also most traditional, is focused attention. Modern gurus promote meditation as the clearing of the mind and ridding it of thought, in order to create a state of tranquility. While this method helps to realize a state of peace and contentment for the period of meditation, it does not alter the circumstance in any way once the meditation is over. Thus, offering a temporary or false sense of peace.
There are many scientific studies to prove that the traditional method of ‘focused meditation’ is more effective and promotes overall health of the body and mind. Brown and Ryan in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology demonstrate how focused meditation fosters attentional and emotional self-regulation, and behavioral flexibility, together promoting well-being. There is also evidence to prove that focused meditation improves the psychological and physiological well-being.
While it is good enough for Submitters to meditate on God because He tells us to do so, appreciating the scientific benefits serves to strengthen our faith and reassure the heart of God’s system and infinite knowledge. [50:40] During the night you shall meditate on His name, and after prostrating. It is noteworthy to understand ‘Meditation’ from a Quranic point of view and why God exhorts us to meditate on His name and be aware of Him. Being aware of God includes being aware of His qualities by focusing on them and appreciating them.
In fact, Sara Lazar, Ph.D., an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard
Medical School, conducted research to find out which parts of the brain became active when a person practices meditation. She discovered some amazing results: The brain regions associated with attention, sensory awareness and emotional processing, i.e. the cortex, were thicker in meditators. Also, meditators’ brains grew thicker in direct correlation with how much they meditated. The findings suggest that meditation can change the brain’s structure; perhaps because certain areas of the brain are more frequently used in the process of meditation, and therefore grow. Consequently, regular meditation practice is highly effective in improving people’s working memory, i.e. the short-term memory system that we tap into for managing information, controlling emotions, problem solving, and complex thoughts.
In an endeavor to practice meditation I started to remember God as much as possible through the day. I started by focusing during Salat, by making a conscious effort to be aware of the words of the Salat. I realized that focusing on God during Salat made me more active and alert, much after Salat was completed. In fact it made me calmer and relaxed and this in turn helped me through the day. I was much more at peace with myself and those around me.
Like all disciplines, meditation too requires practice, for Submitters God makes it easy by making it a commandment. We know that God does not make us do anything that is counterproductive and this has been proven time and time again; be it the physical benefits of fasting / Salat, or the economic benefits of Zakat. While it may not always be clear on the face of it, and may come to us in the form of religious duties, a detailed study of the Quran will show how the commandments are all linked to a healthy society – healthy physically and spiritually.
The benefits of being present, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003.
DO NOT WAVER
[3:8] “Our Lord, let not our hearts waver, now that You have guided us. Shower us with Your mercy; You are the Grantor.
We submitters have been given a powerful message from the Most Gracious, which is to worship Him alone, no partners. I feel we must keep our eyes on the prize and not waver. The prize is Paradise and to be very close to God Almighty. If we are to be victorious, we must do what is asked of us by the Almighty. That is: 1) worship God Alone; 2) believe in the Hereafter, the Day of Judgment; 3) lead a righteous life. To lead a righteous life we do many things including: believe in the angels who pray for us believers, help and support us, and carry out all of God’s commands; repent, reform, and uphold the Quran, the whole Quran and nothing but the Quran; obey the messenger (the Quran is now the messenger); do our daily Contact Prayers; fast during Ramadan; give Zakat and make Hajj if we can afford it.
All of these things will get us into the kingdom of God. But we must not waver. We must keep our eyes on the prize. Brothers and sisters, remain steadfast and reverence God Alone.
[3:139] You shall not waver, nor shall you grieve, for you are the ultimate victors, if you are believers.
[3:146] Many a prophet had godly people fight along with him, without ever wavering under pressure in the cause of GOD, nor did they hesitate or become discouraged. GOD loves the steadfast.
[4:104] Do not waver in pursuing the enemy. If you suffer, they also suffer. However, you expect from GOD what they never expect. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
[21:19] To Him belongs everyone in the heavens and the earth, and those at Him are never too arrogant to worship Him, nor do they ever waver.
[47:35] Therefore, you shall not waver and surrender in pursuit of peace, for you are guaranteed victory, and GOD is with you. He will never waste your efforts.