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Meditating With Icons

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

Iconography is the visual images and symbols used in a work of art. Icons are used as a spiritual practice for meditation and prayer. Many people find meditating with icons a helpful and valuable process. We have free meditation videos using icons in this section in our Meditation Room that you can watch.

People have used sacred images and icons for thousands of years to focus deeply on the mysteries of creation and the universe. Icons have often been said to be “windows to heaven.” With practice, sacred images are a great tool to help lead us into a state of sacred meditation.

meditating with icons

Icons are said to have been written, not painted. After months of prayer, fasting, and meditation each icon is created. Icon artists believe divine revelations create these sacred icons. Because of this, artists never sign them. The icons are products of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, or the Creator. As a result, many people understand icons are holy images that help us as transcending our mundane world.

The Ancient Practice of Meditating With Icons

  1. Look at the icon. Take a few deep breaths to feel centered, for example. What do you notice about the icon image’s expression? Is this icon image smiling, frowning, or sad? Do you feel this image is saying to you? 
  2. Look deeper. Continue to look more deeply into the icon. Make it a point to be aware of where your attention is drawn to. Slowly scan the icon. Gently concentrate on any detail you notice. 
  3. Explore feelings. What feelings are you sensing in your heart and gut? Stop your icon meditation practice when you feel you are ready. 
  4. Repeat. Go back to the same icon several times during the day or week ahead. As you gaze into the icon, notice a deeper meditative state each time. For example, what are your mind, body, and soul experiencing?
  5. Transformation. People believe their lives were changed through meditations on sacred icons throughout history. For example, many believe they have received wisdom, healing, and guidance from the spiritual practice of meditating with icons. As a result this powerful meditation practice entails a sequence of looking at, deepened awareness, contemplating, thinking, and feeling.

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