Imagining the Creator Holding You Together So You Don’t Have to
Christian Meditation is a quiet time for you to re-integrate and re-calibrate your mind with your body. And re-integrate and re-calibrate your mind and body with God‘s presence with you and in you. Remember the quote from the apostle Paul in Acts 17:28 – In him you live and move and have your being.
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Rachel Zoffness (The Pain Management Workbook)
It’s easy to believe that pain is exclusively located in the body, in the place that hurts. But despite the fact that we experience pain in our bodies, pain is actually constructed by the brain.
[A good example] of the brain’s role in pain comes from a medical phenomenon known as phantom limb pain. This condition arises when an accident survivor loses a limb, then continues to feel terrible pain in the missing limb even after it’s gone.
[Pain happens when] information from [your body’s] sensory receptors travels up your spinal cord to your brain. Your brain then interprets these signals and decides how to respond…
[But] your brain [is what] makes pain.
Put another way, pain is not an accurate indicator of tissue damage. Pain is an interpretation, your brain’s best guesstimate based on all available information.
[But] the pain system, like most systems, is imperfect. Sometimes there are glitches.
…Pain is not an accurate indicator of tissue damage. You can experience terrible pain in the complete absence of bodily harm… That is: just because something hurts does not necessarily mean your body is in danger of harm. “Hurt” and “harm” are not the same.
This exemplifies an important, and counterintuitive, point: Injury can occur in the absence of pain, and pain can occur in the absence of injury.
[Remember that] “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Chronic Pain Changes the Brain
Just as the brain can become good at piano playing, …it can also become really good at pain. When you have pain for weeks, months, and years, your brain inadvertently “practices” pain.
The longer you practice pain, the more you use the “pain pathway” in your brain. The more you use this pathway, the bigger and stronger it gets. The stronger this pathway gets, the better your brain gets at pain!
…Small [nerve sensory] signals from your body now sound—and feel—huge...
As with any alarm system, there can be false alarms. With chronic pain, your body’s warning system “goes off” even when nothing’s wrong—like when your car alarm goes off even though there’s no break-in. Sometimes the brain sounds the pain alarm when in truth, despite your very real pain and discomfort, you’re not actually [harmed or damaged physically].
The pain you feel isn’t necessarily a signal that you’re in danger of harm.
By teaching the brain that not all pain is dangerous—that hurt and harm are not the same …your brain will learn that “hurt” doesn’t necessarily mean …“harm.”
[But— and this is really important —] when you’re feeling stressed and anxious— your body is tense and tight, you’re having worried thoughts, and you perceive or believe your body is in danger— your cerebral cortex and limbic system (which control thoughts and feelings) send signals to your pain dial, turning it way up. Your brain…generates loud signals [of] PAIN!!!!!!!!!!
[This] pain dial is also controlled by negative emotions like sadness, anger, hopelessness, and frustration.
Research shows that negative emotions like stress, anger, and sadness amplify pain, while positive emotions like relaxation, joy, and happiness can reduce pain. This means that pain is never just physical, it’s also emotional! Therefore, in order to effectively treat pain, we must address thoughts and feelings in addition to physical symptoms.
What we think affects how we feel emotionally affects how we feel physically affects how we act (or behave).
This is where Christian Meditation can be so helpful.
What we think and how we think about ourselves and our circumstances affects our emotions and affects our physical bodies. Our physical body is inseparably connected to our spiritual lives. And our spiritual lives are inseparably connected to our physical bodies.
Too often we get stuck looking at our lives merely horizontally — that is, seeing ourselves in the context of our circumstances. Anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, and hopelessness amplify pain.
But what Christian meditation does is gives us a lens through our biblically guided imagination that enables us to recalibrate our lives vertically — that is, seeing our circumstances and our lives in the context of who God really is and is for US right now in this moment.
Replacing anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and sadness with the calm confidence and peace and joy and appreciation of the true reality that is the context of our life right now and forever.
Christian meditation activates our powerful imagination. But not in a way where we are imagining something that’s not real, but rather in a way where we are seeing the reality that is unseen but real.
The Bible is constantly giving us imagery with which to experience unseen spiritual reality more vividly in our lives. Christian meditation takes that biblical imagery and guides our imagination to experience God more vividly. Using our biblically guided imagination to re-integrate our bodies (physical realities) with the spiritual realities of who God is and what it really means that he is present with us and IN us.
Christian meditation brings the unseen realities of who God really is deep into our soul — deep into our mind and our body.
Speaking specifically of Jesus…
Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, …all things were created through him and for him. …And in him all things hold together.”
Imagine right now the I AM who created everything that exists everywhere in the entire universe — in the physical world and the spiritual world — right now holding your very atoms together in your body by his presence. Because he wants you to exist in his universe.
Here’s the thing: you’re not imagining something that isn’t but you’re imagining something that IS that you usually imagine isn’t. Too often our imagination creates a false world inside our heads. You’re reversing that by using your imagination to experience reality instead of unreality. We usually don’t think of our lives and bodies according to the reality that every molecule and cell of our body being energized and held together by God.
Then just 10 verses down…
…The riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The idea of hope in the New Testament means to live now in a way that is connected to a future reality. A hope of glory is our own bodily resurrection where Christ transforms our body into a body like his glorious body. We saw that in Philippians 3:21 in our last episode. The riches of the glory of this mystery is that right now in this present moment Christ is in you. The one who created everything in this entire universe is in you. The one who holds the entire universe together is in you. This is a glorious mystery we’re not going to understand. But it is an unseen reality that we CAN experience now through our biblically guided imagination.
Imagine the unseen but very real reality of this — the one through whom all things were created and for whom all things were created and in whom all things hold together being in you.
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Our audio engineer is Diego Huaman.
This podcast is a ministry of The Crossing, a church in Columbia, Missouri, a college town where the flagship campus of the University of Missouri is located.