I plan on developing these ideas more in the future, but I would like to present this hypothesis though it may still need further development. I have come to notice in my own prayer life and in the prayer life of others two distinct ways of practicing Christian Meditation.
By Christian Meditation, I refer to the active pondering of sacred truths using the faculties of the mind. In the tradition, this type of meditation is referred to as discursive. By this, the authors are making a distinction between conceptual and non-conceptual prayer. Conceptual, or Christian Meditation, involves images, figures, words, and other aspects of active thinking. Non-conceptual prayer refers to the gift of contemplation, which involves a wordless, imageless resting in the Lord. In this article, I am dealing with the former, namely conceptual, Christian Meditation.
The most common type of Christian Meditation is the rosary. Another common form includes Lectio Divina, and here is where we get into the topic of this article.
I have distinguished two types of “personalities” of Christian meditation. One, which is exemplified by St. Ignatius of Loyola, is the imaginative kind. This personality likes to enter into the scene by imagining the sights, sounds, smells, and other imaginative details. This kind of person might like to incorporate sacred art by drawing in the expressions on the faces, and other details. All of these lead them into dialogue with Jesus Christ by entering into the landscape of scripture.
The second personality, which includes myself, is more conceptual. These type of people like to take concepts, single words, phrases, and ideas. Then, through association, they let the imagination draw connections to other concepts and ideas, playing with where the Spirit leads.
I don’t think these two kinds of Christian Meditation are mutually exclusive. I think that most people tend to fluctuate between the two. However, I think that most people either gravitate towards one or the other. The reason I am writing this is because I think many people face frustrations when they encounter teachers who emphasize one over the other. Furthermore, I think people tend to be prejudiced by the one they prefer. People who prefer the imaginative, tend to think that conceptual side is not personal enough. Those who prefer the conceptual tend to be distrustful of the imaginative (after all, we don’t have any pictures of Jesus Christ, they say).
I think a balanced Spiritual life has to have an appreciation for both, while praying where you find yourself drawing closest to the Lord.