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Meditate on the Word of God

Alanna Rose shares a beautifully simple practice for enjoying and engaging with the Lord's Word. Revelation can often feel intimidating in length or confusing in content but Alanna describes an approach to taking small, bite-sized pieces at a time. This method offers the opportunity to cherish and delight in the Lord's truth. -Editor

Among the things Swedenborg charged himself with was “diligently to read and meditate upon the word of God” (Documents Concerning Swedenborg, R. Tafel, p 26). This idea has been oft repeated from the pulpit. I recall being encouraged many times to go to the Lord’s Word. This is a simple instruction. What I don’t remember being told was to meditate on it, or more specifically, how to meditate on the word of God. At present, I don’t know of an esoteric chapter of the New Church. If there is one, and I have overlooked it in ignorance, please inform me, because I would like to take part. In my own life I have sought instruction in meditation from yogic traditions, meditation instructors, and more recently Sufi texts. They all repeat the same things in slightly different ways. I have found absolutely nothing incongruous between these practices and the writings of the New Church. On the contrary, meditation appears to me as one of the only suitable avenues toward embracing the radically unified vision of reality offered in Swedenborg’s writings. Take this quote for instance,

Heaven, taken as whole, is a heavenly person because the Lord alone is a heavenly person. He is the totality of each and every thing in heaven and in the heavenly individual. (Arcana Coelestia 162)

Sweeping ideas like this can be read with enthusiasm yet can still pass quickly out of the mind. Holding this same truth in meditation will offer the individual a new experience of it. I have read many beautiful things, but ultimately experiences are what change me. Meditation gives me a way to experience the truths in the Lord’s word within my own body.

Within us faith becomes both spiritual and earthly, in that everything spiritual has to be received in what is earthly to become anything to us. Something purely spiritual does indeed enter us but we do not accept it. It is like the ether that flows in and out of us without having any effect. For something to have an effect, we have to be mentally aware of it and open to it. We have no such awareness or openness unless something affects our earthly self. (True Christianity 339)

The principles of meditation as I have come to know them are simple. Come into a seated position. Close your eyes. Bring your awareness to the breath. Make the in-breath and the out- breath even. This will quiet the mind. Let your breath lead you to areas of tension in your body. Release any tension you find as you exhale. From this silent vantage point you can repeat the Lord’s name or a particular quote from the word. Surrender your will and let your heart become attuned to the One. You will go deeper and deeper into an experience of this truth as you keep your mind steady and let your breath unfold.

Every meditation is different. There are times when I have been meditating and wonder if anything at all is happening, but when I open my eyes I always feel a shift in my energy, in my consciousness, in the degree that I am holding onto the thoughts that occur in my mind. I make a space for meditation every day because of the joy and the peace that it brings me. These positive experiences are at hand throughout the rest of the day. I can call them to mind when I find myself forgetting.

In the Arcana Coelestia this statement occurs,

To meditate in a field, said of Isaac, is to think in good. (Arcana Coelestia 3196)

It is a very simple definition, but its practice is profound. I think what is most valuable is the personal nature of the approach. We can all be preached to but to open the door of your experience to the God of all life is to embark on something only you can. It vivifies the variation and magnificence of the Word because no two people will receive it exactly the same way. We can then live from this new perspective, from an intimate connection with the truth.

Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

Alanna Rose

Alanna is an artist making paintings and meals on the farm in upstate New York. She and her husband Garth Brown are in the process of building a house together and co-creating a cheese farm with Edmund Brown and Normandy Alden.

Reader Comments (10)

I love it. I am inspired to try to read with a sense of reverence. Brian

“…[T]he person who reads [the Word] from the Lord, and not from himself alone, is filled by it with the good of love and the truths of wisdom” (SS 3)

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Oh wow. Beautifully articulated, Alanna. Thank you for this rich, inspiring, and practical perspective on meditation. I got alot out of it.

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy L

Great Write-up Alanna.

I do my best to never read a passage from the Lord's Word and let myself be convinced that I just understood the Truth. I've been raised to hold the Lord's Word as an infinite source of wisdom and the analogy has always been an endless well of water. So when I read a passage of truth I keep it in mind and then mediate on it. In the Church we often talk about reading Truth form the Word and later experiencing that Truth and this is how we confirm for ourselves the validity of How True the Lord's Word really is. The doctrine of life is the living Word... and finding the Doctrine of Life in Life is easier if our minds our meditating upon what's said in the written Word. Reading the Lord's Word is like taking a sip of water... the water doesn't just disappear... it enters the body and flows throughout and performs great uses. The uses of water in our body is like seeing the usefulness of living according to the Lord's written Word in our own life.

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJared Alden

Thanks for the thoughts Alanna. I wouldn't be surprised if you were familiar with these but here are some other passages relating to meditation. It might be wrong to equate these with eastern style meditation but it is certainly suggests more focus than just skimming over things or assuming we know something just by reading it.

SE 733. About reflection
I was just conversing with spirits and angels about reflection, to which I do not know whether people have given enough attention; and it was said that if they give it some thought, they will discover more secrets in the doctrine of reflection than in any other.
What reflection achieves can be quite clear to everyone from the fact that we perceive no sensation of the body or its parts, and are unaware of having a sensation, unless we reflect upon that part of our body. Then we perceive heat, cold, pressure - we even feel what that part is suffering. If we reflect on our breathing, then we feel and know that we are breathing, and in this way a voluntary factor joins in; besides innumerable other instances.

DP 296.6
It should be known that every man as to his spirit is in the spiritual world in some society there, a wicked man in an infernal society and a good man in a heavenly society; and sometimes he also appears there when in deep meditation. Moreover, as the sound of the voice with the spoken words diffuses itself in the air in the natural world, so affection with its thought diffuses itself among societies in the spiritual world; and there is a correspondence between them, for affection corresponds to sound and thought to speech.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Cole

Alanna this is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experience and insights. I'm inspired by your daily meditation and strive for a daily practice myself. For now it is while walking/chasing children, but I try to still my mind.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBronwen

Thanks for your thoughts everyone and thank you Nathan for those quotes, both of which are very fitting and intriguing.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlanna

I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks you for the effort it took to write this piece and have it published. You touched a lot of people and inspired them to take reading the Word of god to a deeper level. Way to go Alanna!

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKay Alden


So sweet!

Jared, eloquent!

I love the times when I switch gears from Martha to Mary, stop my busy preparations, and just sit at the Lord's feet and listen to Him.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIsaac Synnestvedt

You may be aware of this already but there are also some good books out there along this line that you may enjoy. Look up anything by Thomas Keating. I have especially enjoyed "Open Mind Open Heart" and "Manifesting God". There is a website called Contemplative Outreach that has much information on Christian meditation with resources and retreats as well. Thomas Keating is a Trappist Monk who has tried to bring a new awareness to the forgotten history of christian contemplative practice. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed tapping into these other wonderful fountains of practice. . Another great author is Richard Rohr. Check out his books "Everything Belongs" and "The Naked Now". Anything by Thomas Merton too..."New Seeds of Contemplation" especially. I too live in upstate NY and through the long dark winter these books have been a lifesaver. Oh, also look up Taize online. It's a meditative worship service style from a religious community in France, really lovely, and some churches are occasionally starting to offer this type of service.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Hanna
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