I see meditation and prayer as complimentary partners, bound together in a process which first helps us turn on our “two-way radio” and tune it in to the frequency at which we can then communicate with HaShem (one of the Jewish references to G-d) through our prayers. And just as we use different prayers at different times and for different reasons, so it is with meditation.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (of blessed memory) says we can meditate to learn to focus and think in a controlled manner. In his words: “It’s deciding exactly how one wishes to direct the mind for a period of time and then doing it.”
Meditation — thought directed by will — helps us turn off all of the extraneous “noise” or “chatter” in our heads so that we may experience moments of connection with HaShem. It is in these moments when we allow ourselves to find the answers — to anything from the questions or issues which we face in our day-to-day lives, to helping us understand life’s “Great Truths” — all from within. Like sculptors releasing or uncovering the objects which lay within the raw materials of their media, our task is to reveal or uncover that true essence of being which HaShem has already placed within us.
Next week Rabbi Clare will answer What is Jewish meditation?