Yoga was recently criticized by Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler because Christians suppose that they can employ some of its techniques without jeopardizing the faith.
Mohler correctly points out that if by that we mean we can practice the physical exercises of Yoga without the meditative elements, then, yes, we can, but it is then not really Yoga, but stretching.
A Christian cannot employ the meditative elements of Yoga — or any other system — and remain true to the Christian faith. The reason is that Yoga requires the “emptying” of the mind, whereas Christianity requires its filling, and transforming. And other systems, if they meditate on anything, meditate upon those things that are contrary to God’s revelation of Himself in nature and in Scripture, and Christian must meditate only upon the truth of God.
But most of us don’t need to worry about improper meditation, because we can’t be still enough with our own thoughts long enough to call it meditation. Our error, instead, is that we don’t meditate at all.
One reason is that it seems to be hard work.
But when we consider our behavior in other areas, maybe it is not so hard as we think. For instance, consider the behavior that prompts someone to say that you are “dwelling” on some thing, or “obsessing” with some person. When we think that we have been wronged, it is not difficult at all for us to “meditate” on the event: the precise order of events surrounding the personal insult; who else, other than the offender, knew about the act, helped plan it, secretly enjoyed it, talked about it behind our back; how we might react to save face, show strength, get revenge, protect our own. We meditate, after all, on those things that we value.
Thomas Watson defines meditation as a “holy exercise of the mind whereby we bring the truths of God to remembrance, and do seriously ponder upon them and apply them to ourselves.” To help with the subject, or object, of meditation, Watson suggests:
1. meditate seriously upon the corruption of your nature.
2. meditate seriously upon the death and passon of Christ.
3. meditate upon your evidence for heaven.
4. meditate upon the uncertaintly of all earthly comforts.
5. meditate on God’s serverity against sin.
6. meditate upon eternal life.
These are certainly not all of the things we can meditate upon, but give us a good guide. Scripture itself should be the foundation for meditating upon any of these subjects Watson mentions, and God’s word is always conducive to meditation.
So, while we don’t sit in the Lotus position repeating ‘ohmmm,’ Christians should meditate, upon the reality of God’s character, our nature, His redemption, and our future state in glory.