Tips on Meditating
1. When learning to pray, pray as long as inclined. If the periods are very short, lengthen occasionally. For longer periods of prayer, ten or fifteen minutes is ordinarily a minimum; twenty or so minutes often works better. First unwind. Then recall: God is dwelling within. You may communicate with God there. Rest in the presence of your Creator, then ask help to pray well.
2. After reading a text, "listen" interiorly for a time, and communicate with God in any way that you feel drawn. After that, if you wish, make use of reflection, feelings, and/or choices and resolutions, as inclined. Or make acts of praise or request or just rest in God’s presence.
3. To stir up food for reflection about a text, try any of the following:
a. Ask questions. Who? What? Where? How? Does it matter?
b. Note relationships: How is this connected with Jesus, our destiny, something we believe in, some feeling, something or someone important, a choice to be made?
c. Make a comparison. This reminds me of...is like...is quite different from...
d. Refer the text directly to yourself; or to the nation; to the present or future; to people you know; or to everyday living.
e. Notice feelings: feeling hopeful, loving, thankful, worried, afraid, hurt, satisfied, critical, confident, happy, confused, depressed, dry, elated, empty. All are food for prayer. Notice especially feelings of resistance. Where do they come from? What do they mean?
f. Think and pray about the meaning of important words: Blessed, Messiah, Shepherd...
4. Scripture. Sometimes it is more profitable to meditate over a whole passage. Sometimes over just a word, phrase, or sentence. Read the passage through, then decide. Don’t rush. One idea can change your life!
5. It is sometimes helpful to read the passage aloud, even several times. Try emphasizing different words or phrases with each reading.
6. Sometimes the best topic for meditation is your most pressing problem, joy, or sorrow. If it weighs heavily on your mind: "if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em."
7. Encourage occasional prayer-contracts with God during the day. One can pray about almost anything: one’s family, business, parish, a current event, movie, newspaper account, song, the dawn, a friend, a humorous saying, a slogan.
8. If easily distracted, copy out the Scripture passage slowly in writing. (This forces attention.) You can also write or vocalize your thought while meditating. Some people draw.
9. Be natural. Talk to God or Jesus or Mary like a friend, in your own words, uncontrived.
10. If one or another meditation doesn’t turn you on, take another, or review one you liked, or design one of your own. Don’t try to use all the above directions at once. But reread them occasionally and use them when you need help.
11. When pressed for time: read and run, but continue to mull over the topic during the day.