Tuesday, May 13, 2014

studying the scriptures like you meditate

I have to go to bed RIGHT NOW, but I wanted to blog quickly!

I've been taking the 40-Day Meditation Challenge from Tree of Life Kundalini Yoga, which is run by Progressive Prophetess. One of the rules is that you have to do your meditation for 40 consecutive days, as in, you miss a day, you start the count over.

For the record, I believe I am on Day 14. And yes, I did my meditation for today!

One of the reasons meditating for so many days in a row is recommended is that you're building new neural circuitry in your brain and each day builds on the habits built in the last. It's more complicated than this, I think (or is it?), but that's my summary.

This site explains the kirtan kriya.
To perform the kirtan kriya, which is the kriya I am doing for 40 days,  one of the things you do is envision light from God entering you through your crown, and making kind of an L-shape in your head to beam out through your forehead (your third eye).

[Side note: Progressive Prophetess has pointed out the Christ connection to the kirtan kriya. If I may add to the LDS kundalini scholarship, I would like to mention that in my own practice, rather than interpreting the "maa" as "rebirth," I interpret that rebirth more along the lines of "resurrection," which to me more solidly reinforces the idea of the kirtan kriya being about Jesus Christ and our own divine paths. Resurrection is a type of rebirth, after all--our rebirth into our new perfected bodies.]

Anyway, I've been focusing on getting in my daily meditation, and it's become a priority for me. I will stay up late to get it in, even if--like right now--my eyes are closing on me and I'm totally drowsy. I realized, I want to get in my meditation because:

A. I want to complete the challenge! 40 consecutive days, baby!
B. Did I mention I paid $60 for the class on the challenge? Gotta get my money's worth! :o)
C. I want those brain changes!

But here's the important thing: the prophets and scriptures have certainly commanded us to meditate (although they are not always clear on the definition of meditation). But an even clearer commandment is to study the scriptures.

As I was explaining the L-shape of light that's supposed to go on in the kirtan kriya to a friend, I had a sudden understanding that this is how scripture reading is supposed to work, too. Maybe not in exactly the same way as it does in meditation, but in a similar way. A chiastic way, perhaps. Maybe the opposite way. Maybe as we study the scriptures, light and understanding enter us through our third eye--basically our eyes and minds--and help us connect up with God. Or maybe light and understanding from God is supposed to enter us through our crowns and enlighten our minds and eyes as we read the scriptures. Either way makes sense to me.

It suddenly became clear to me that just as meditation is the most effective at creating a change of heart and mind when it is done for consecutive days, so is scripture study. To me, in the past it has been easy to compartmentalize scripture study into something that's just kind of nebulously good for the spirit, rather than something that actually has real, true potential to change the literal heart and mind. I mean, I know that's true, but I don't know that there are studies showing how scripture study changes the body as there are studies about kundalini meditation.

I mean, look. Wikipedia even has an article about the research on meditation's effects on the body. Meditation has been shown to make a measurable difference in the workings of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Meditation has been shown to alleviate chronic pain, reduce stress, and do all sorts of great stuff for the human mindbody.

But it appears to me now that meditation works on the same pathways that scripture study can work, if we are diligent about it and do it every day, and go into it with the right frame of mind.

Imagine reading your scriptures for 11 or 31 minutes a day, with the background focus of your mind being that light of God entering your body through the top of your head and then enlightening your vision and your mind as you study His words. Or imagine envisioning the light from His holy scriptures enlightening your body through your third eye and linking you back up to Heaven, opening your connection with God in a more visual way. Would that not enlighten your understanding, even just the one time you tried it?

Now imagine doing your scripture study that way every day--building those neural circuits that are also built during meditation as you study God's word. Imagine the ability to reduce stress, get your body in better condition, receive greater light and understanding, as you implemented this practice.

I write all this as someone who doesn't actually do that stuff--yet! But just understanding that this type of scripture study is a possibility is kind of blowing my mind. I had to share. Maybe tonight will not be the night I start reading the scriptures with the background intention of that light and knowledge making the L-shape in my head as I read, but it's now officially on the to-do list. We'll see how it goes!


  1. Love this way of thinking about scripture study!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. It reminds me of this article from Segullah:
    Reading the scriptures on the written page will create new neural pathways in our brains. Pretty awesome!