What about Meditation?
Yoga is not a Catholic Meditation
Catholics need to be aware of the dangers of yoga and how it can lead us away from the Catholic faith. If we do not know our own identity, we risk losing it.
In today’s society, we see people turning to yoga to relieve stress without knowing that they are dealing with a religious practice outside of the Christian faith. Meditation using yoga, and Christian meditation are two different things. Christians are deceived when they think that meditation is the same in both realms. For example take the word blue. “Am I blue?” “Do you mean if I’m sad?” or “Do you mean the color blue?” So it is with meditation. It is different as a Christian than meditation as the follower of a yogi. The word is spelled the same. It sounds the same but they are not the same thing.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. … To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’” (CCC 2705-2706).
God never asks us to give away our will and reason. He is a jealous God and He wants us for Himself. In every area of our lives we need to be careful of what we feed our souls and minds. Prayer is talking to God and keeping our reason. “Christian prayer is the meeting of two freedoms, the infinite freedom of God with the finite freedom of man.”1
When we meditate, we are pondering how what we learned can apply to our every day lives. Our prayer to God is always a state of conversation and exchange. We do not imagine God or pretend to see Him. We talk to the living God when we pray, and whenever He desires: He may reveal Himself to us.
“Genuine Christian mysticism has nothing to do with technique: it is always a gift of God, and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy.” 2
Christians believe in one life and then judgment. As Pope John Paul II expresses in the Encyclical Letter – “Coming of the Third Millenium” -
Christian revelation excludes reincarnation, and speaks of a fulfillment which man is called to achieve in the course of a single earthly existence. Man achieves this fulfillment of his destiny through the sincere gift of self, a gift which is made possible only through his encounter with God. It is in God that man finds full self-realization: this is the truth revealed by Christ. Man fulfills himself in God, who comes to meet him through his Eternal Son. Thanks to God’s coming on earth, human time, which began at Creation, has reached its fullness. “The fullness of time” is in fact eternity, indeed, it is the One who is eternal, God himself. Thus, to enter into “the fullness of time” means to reach the end of time and to transcend its limits, in order to find time’s fulfillment in the eternity of God
In Christianity time has a fundamental importance. Within the dimension of time the world was created; within it the history of salvation unfolds, finding its culmination in the “fullness of time” of the Incarnation, and its goal in the glorious return of the Son of God at the end of time. In Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, time becomes a dimension of God, who is himself eternal. With the coming of Christ there begin “the last days” (cf. Heb 1:2), the “last hour” (cf. 1 Jn 2:18), and the time of the Church, which will last until the Parousia.
From Coming of the Third Millennium - Encyclical Letter by Pope John Paul II- TERTIO MILLENNIO ADVENIENTE II. The Jubilee of the Year 2000
Yoga is one of the systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy. It is the initiation of an eastern religion that does not believe in Christ as the savior of the world. A religion based on man’s way of trying to explain God from a human understanding alone. In Samskrit it means “union” and it seeks the union of the individual with the divine by means of exercise, breathing, posture, diet and meditation. The effects of yoga as it progresses into advance practices by repeating phrases and emptying the mind of all distraction is similar to the effect of hypnosis. The person is giving away its mind to something… What is that “something?” They may never know. Our mind is the “driver” at the “wheel” of our bodies. When we let go, who is doing the “driving”? Evil is real in this world. Jesus should be the center of our meditation and our lives. We need to be in control of our minds. Mental problems can develop in innocent people led into false practices.
Prayer and Christian meditation can foster spiritual growth; as a result we will increase in virtues and the love of God and neighbor. A self-centered system of meditation can lead to isolation and mental illness.
Hypnosis can use the mind to manipulate body rhythms and lead people in ways that are not normally possible. Yoga does the same thing. We are to protect our ways and practices. The mind can be disturbed by tampering with it. In dealing with the physical mind and not understanding what is happening, we can open ourselves to trouble. - From yoga straight into a psycho-therapist’s office.
There is no generic religion; and yoga is trying to convince the public that it is just another way of reducing stress and improving the mental well being of an individual. - A marketing technique in a hectic world.
Yoga is a religious practice that can lead Christians astray. It can produce physiological feelings due to exercise of the body which can be interpreted as spiritual experiences. In “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation,” is stated:
Some physical exercises automatically produce a feeling of quiet and relaxation, pleasing sensations, perhaps even phenomena of light and of warmth, which resemble spiritual well-being. To take such feelings for the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit would be a totally erroneous way of conceiving the spiritual life. Giving them a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience, when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience, would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations.
There is no “Christian” Yoga. It is not a physical exercise but a teaching originates from Hinduism and it excludes Christ as the Messiah and Savior of the world. Do not be misled to self-sufficiency outside of Christ. Do not trust every spirit that says it belongs to God. As the apostle John says:
Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come,but in fact is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3
Learn your Catholic faith and traditions. Experimenting with forms of prayer foreign to our faith may lead you away from the faith with false promises. Avail yourself to the Sacraments and attend Mass daily. Pray the rosary. If you stop your daily routine and take time to pray the rosary, you may come to know a peace that is hard to describe. The national news has reported that people who pray the rosary can see a drop in their blood pressure. It can reduce stress. I carry the rosary in my pocket as a reminder to pray. Through the years, I have recommended the rosary to people who had trouble falling sleep at night, and it works. We meditate on the mysteries of Christ passion, death and resurrection and on the assumption and coronation of the Virgin Mary. The repetitive prayer of the Hail Mary and the Our Fathers sounds like a lullaby of peace to our souls. It quiets our souls giving us peace. Put it to the test. - Try it.
In daily prayer, we need to bring all of our burdens, physical, spiritual and emotional, to the Lord. We need to talk to our Father in heaven in daily dialogue. As you walk in life take the Lord’s hand and let Him guide you. Come to the Lord Jesus in prayer with an open heart and in complete humility. He is everything. We are nothing but a pen in His hand with which if we let Him, He can use to do His will for blessings to shower upon our lives.
Catholics come together with all religions to hope and pray for world peace but we need to maintain our identity. In sharing with other religions if we do not know our own identity we risk losing it. We need to acknowledge the truth that Hinduism is a religious belief and yoga is an expression of it. Do not be misled by false doctrines. Stay focus on the message of Salvation of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. If Christ is in the center of our prayer life, we are on the right track proclaiming the message of Salvation, of Christ our Lord and Savior:
I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me.
© 2002 Marta
Written by Marta – LEAP OF FAITH – www.faithleap.org
I have written a treatise on this subject – If you are interested in it email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. n. 3 October 15, 1989.
(2) “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. n. 23 October 15, 1989.
Published on April 25, 2002
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