Living on Orcas Island as I do, I spend a lot of time in conversation with seekers and finders who were raised Christian but found it unsatisfying. Many gravitated to the Eastern Religions where they found something meaningful in meditation practices as a way of concentrating on the transcendent. What they sometimes refer to as the metaphysical, I generally refer to as the mystical.
Thomas Merton, not long before his death in Thailand, wrote one of his friends and said he had traveled to the east only to discover that what he sought was available in his own Christian tradition. He was not dissing the eastern traditions, for they in fact, had led him to the depth of his own tradition.
I remember something Karen Armstrong once said to me. “Get a Christian, Jewish and Muslim mystic in a room and they’ll have more in common then they disagree over.” This statement is jarring, but I could hear it because as an adult, and re-energized Christian, I was introduced to the mystical traditions within the Christian faith.
A.W. Tozer was a contemporary Christian mystic of sorts. He was “safe, aka firmly orthodox (kosher!) in his beliefs,” and he seldom talked about his mysticism in “how to terms,” but I discovered this tidbit on spiritual concentration in his book, “Of God and Men.” I find it helpful.
Tozer on Spiritual Concentration and the inner life. “Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelopes you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. “
Amen and peace be with you my dear fellow sojourners.