I am a Christian. Is it appropriate for me to do this meditation and yoga?
This is an extremely important question, and one that deserves significant prayer and thought. Certainly what we do in terms of our minds, hearts, and bodies matters a great deal to God and can influence us powerfully either toward or away from God. Ultimately I believe a person should choose to do or not to do based on their conscience, provided they have an understanding of the Bible and its core teachings. One needs to do what they feel is right; no one else can tell you what is right for you. I believe that is why God sent us the Holy Spirit, to live inside of us and help us discern what is right and edifies our bodies, minds, and hearts toward Him. Ultimately we answer for our actions and beliefs to God alone. We will have to give an account.I perform certain types of meditation and breathing exercises because I believe it helps me to be a better Christian, husband, father, doctor, and person. I feel that because I use these tools I am better-able to express my gifts and live my calling. I believe that if you try them, you will to. But you need to do what you feel is right.From my own journey exploring this important question, I have read extensively both from the Bible and other sources. I have heard it said that there is no place in a Christian’s life for any type of meditation or for yoga for a variety of reasons. I respect my fellow Christians and am glad that they stand firm in what their hearts believe. I don’t happen to agree, for me! I am only able to focus on what’s right for me and am not to judge others or what they feel is right for them.There are many, many scriptures that are relevant to this question, but below here are some that I feel may be of help…On the importance of honoring our body for God:
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On accepting freedom to decide based on your own judgment and not just on what others have said is “right or wrong”:
Also, forgive me for just throwing in all of Romans 14 here, but I think the whole chapter is relevant to this important question. It certainly applies here. Note that Paul is saying that you should do whatever you feel is right, but whatever you do, do as unto God:Principles of Conscience
Of course not one of these scriptures says that a person must or must not do yoga or meditation (although I feel the right type of meditation is very biblical.) That is why Paul spends so much effort and ink in his epistles teaching principles of walking with God. It really is not about a set of rules, but a relationship that leads you into higher levels of truth about Him, the world He created, and navigating it.In these exercises we are not putting any god over our God, we are just training our brain and body to be more relaxed and to let stress roll off our backs like water off a duck. We are training ourselves to be able to listen to the voice of God by being in the present. training your mind to be present and at peace in the moment. Listening without the stir-crazy brain. Jesus says in Matthew:
It’s clear that Jesus wants that for us, and we’ve probably read that scripture 100 times, but how do we DO that? It turns out that there are tools to help you do it that you may not have known about. There is a very powerful influence exerted by particular types of breathing and movements that bring tremendous peace to your mind and body. Yoga experts have discovered this. But are these yogis Christians? Many of them are not. To me, that doesn’t mean they don’t know anything useful. We don’t have to believe everything that someone believes to know that they know or practice something that benefits us.One thing I believe for sure is that a Christian needs to continue to make time for God in his or her life in terms of prayer, Bible reading, worship service attendance, and whatever brings them closer to God. I personally believe that meditation, deep breathing, and even yoga help calm my mind and help me be able to focus on God and minimize distractions for worship, but are not in and of themselves devotion to God. If we are using these as a substitute for time with God, that is when we can come into danger of displacing God out of our lives. It is like when Jesus says:
Nothing is a substitute for God Himself. But there are many references in the Bible to physical exercise and meditation. I believe, as 1 Corinthians 6 teaches, that when we take care of our minds and bodies, we honor God.It is widely known that stress is highly destructive. Few argue that it is one of if not the single greatest cause of sickness and disease. Surely God does not want us in this state. The Lord says:
That is a command with which a lot of us constantly struggle. To be in true peace and to be still. Jesus says, in John:
So why are we living in a constant background of tension, stress, and fear?I have read that the Bible says 365 times DO NOT FEAR. I’ve never counted them, but I believe it. But why 365? Probably because we experience stress EVERY DAY and need reminders to not live in fear. What is stress if not FEAR? This crazy world can leave us with an intellectual understanding of peace because we read the promises of God but with stressed-out minds and bodies that keep us from being in true peace. Certainly our mental and physical health are powerfully connected to our closeness with God. The things I am teaching in this program will dramatically influence the level of peace you experience on a daily basis.If you’re up for it, give these tools a try and see how it goes…I hope this helps you on your journey.