Meditation more than a practice of the ’70s

By Clyde Davis, columnist

This column deliberately stayed away from anything spiritually focused during the recent Lenten/Easter season. It wasn’t that I didn’t see this as vital. It was simply that, especially with the Friday religious pages’ focus, it seemed that there would be enough coverage for the spiritual aspect of life — that is, if you choose to separate life into pieces. Frankly, I don’t.
I saw something from a different perspective this week, though, and now that the Lenten/Easter season is behind us …
I was supposed to do a meditation workshop for extended learning, the Community Education Department, at ENMU. By Wednesday, when the class was scheduled, there were only two participants, so the class was canceled. I have been kicking that one around in my mind, because meditation has been a part of my routine (outside of some lazy spells) ever since Pete Saello, my judo instructor, took a bunch of teenage boys and forced us to realize there was more to martial arts than throwing each other around.
Thinking about the lack of response, I came up with two possibilities, mainly. One is the idea that this is somehow so strange and foreign that many folks don’t want to explore it. I remember a lot of flap from the fundamentalist portions of the church back in the ’70s during the transcendental meditation fad.
Perhaps when people hear the word meditation, they automatically assume it means TM. Even though my class was specifically geared to the Christian tradition of meditation, it could be a frightening exploration to a lot of folks, due to other associations or misunderstandings. A close friend of mine saw this reaction when teaching yoga classes.
The other has to do with our instant gratification mentality. We pretty much tend to expect results like right now, and we get impatient if there aren’t any. Meditation is a piece of a journey, and it has no instant answers to producing inner peace, inner calm, spiritual focus, or any of the other pieces of spiritual growth which are the guiding vision. These things come slowly and never completely.
In other words, maybe it is too much like work for us in our present state of mind.
Meditation combines any or all of visualization, music, scent, visual focus, physical posture, and spiritual energy to help us focus our spirits on the Divine and the Divine working in our lives. It helps us to open ourselves to the voice and the leading of the Divine. It has been a primary spiritual tool for me, and for many folks, in dealing with cancer and other illness. It has also impacted me as an artist and as an athlete. It could be called the listening side of prayer.
It can be hard work, and you occasionally slip into laziness. It is, however, worth the effort.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at