Monsignor Kenneth Steffen is a co-pastor of the Saint Katharine Drexel Parish. He simultaneously began serving in this role and became a chaplain for the Saint Patrick Catholic School in 2001. He was ordained a priest in 1984 and currently holds an associate’s, bachelor’s, two master’s, and a doctorate’s degree. To make his accomplishments even more impressive, Monsignor Kenneth Steffen graduated all of his programs with summa cum laude. Besides being a co-pastor, he also has experience as a parochial vicar, procurator, board member, chairperson, and more. Furthermore, in 2003, Monsignor Kenneth Steffen was named the Prelate of Honor by the Pope John Paul II.
How can people improve their self-control and practice mindfulness?
Two of the popular alternatives that work well for me are praying and meditating. I use them to collect my thoughts and think about life. Additionally, both of these have helped me establish a connection with my body. Meditating, for instance, teaches me how to relax my muscles completely. It also helps me create a link with all of my senses and become hyper-aware of my surroundings. Praying does the same thing for my mind. I use it to express myself and create a connection. When combined, both praying and meditating can be extremely beneficial to one’s health.
What are some other physical benefits of meditation based on your experience?
There is a long list that includes everything from the elimination of stress to better memory retention. I also know a lot of people who use it to overcome anxiety problems and calm themselves. The divine beauty of meditation is hidden in its power to provide everyone with different benefits. For me, it helps improve focus and redirect thoughts. For someone else, on the other hand, meditation may work as a way to resolve stress-related anxiety.
Is there a technique that one must learn to properly meditate?
Although there are some basic guidelines, I do not think that there is an end-all-be-all rule for meditating. In fact, the few principles that must be followed are quite self-explanatory. First, one must allow themselves to breathe naturally. A widespread misconception is that meditation requires one to inhale through their mouth and exhale through their nose. Sometimes, the vice-versa scenario is also misrepresented. In reality, however, there is no predetermined way to breathe. What is important is to keep it natural.
The second variable relates to one’s focus. Meditation aims to bridge the gap between someone’s mind and their body. To achieve something so complex, the person must be extremely focused. An easy way to begin is to aim all of one’s attention to their breathing. From there, focusing will start feeling very natural.
Ultimately, sitting down and eliminating the use of eyes is great for engaging other senses. Meaning, when someone does not use their sense of sight and touch, their hearing will be prioritized. This additionally helps with the previously mentioned focus.
Is there a required amount of time that one must spend meditating to be effective?
No. Meditation is not a sprint, it is a marathon. That means that those who dedicate themselves in the long-run will do better than someone who is inconsistent. The general rule of thumb is to spend at least five to ten minutes of meditating every day. As time passes, these increments will slowly go up. Nevertheless, the more experienced someone is, the easier it will be for them to incorporate meditation into their schedule.
Are there any benefits of praying that overlap with the influence of meditation?
Absolutely. Prayers are another effective tool that helps reduce stress and address anxiety issues. Thus, it is quite common for those that meditate to pray right before or after their session. This helps complete the cycle of mind-to-body exercises that help one achieve the ultimate physical control. Just like meditation, however, prayers need to be approached like a marathon. That means that people should be consistent and dedicated.
How does someone begin the prayer and is there any rule guiding this?
How it begins is somewhat irrelevant when compared to the overall purpose of prayer. Its underlying objective is to help someone establish a connection with God. Therefore, the only rule is, to be honest. Additionally, accepting responsibility will help one grow and recognize their areas in need of improvement. Sometimes, prayer is quite useful to discuss one’s life without asking for anything. After all, who does not like a listening ear when their problems seem to multiply endlessly?