Does Meditation Mean Emptying One’s Mind?

I think it is helpful to see that meditation is a category, like sport. There are all kinds of sports—soccer, badminton, running, baseball—and there are all kinds of meditation. In this blog I focus on two types: mindfulness meditation, which helps one learn to quiet one’s mind and form a new relationship with one’s thoughts and biblical meditation, which enables one to ponder and savor Scripture. The forms of meditation I am interested in are not concerned with emptying one’s mind. 

One of the goals of meditation is to quiet one’s mind by reducing the amount of self-talk and running commentary that is going on. When we have quieted our minds it is not blank or empty but very full—full of an awareness of what is going on and full of what we are directing it to focus on. The mind is contented and “mind-ful” in the sense that it is not hungry for new stimulation. This is pictured in the Bible like this: “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; /Like a weaned child rests against his mother, /My soul is like a weaned child within me” (Ps 131:2, NASB). The picture is of a young child who climbs into her mother’s lap just to cuddle and be loved and quieted. One outcome of meditation is quieting our minds so that, like this child, we can be present to God—present without the self-talk and running commentary and perpetual distractions pulling us away. So, not an empty mind, but a focused mind.