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A statue of Buddha meditating, Borim Temple, Korea

Meditation ' is a holistic discipline by which the practitioner attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation is a component of many religions, and has been practiced since antiquity. It is also practiced outside religious traditions. Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual goals—from achievement of a higher state of consciousness, to greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.

Eastern meditation techniques have been adapted and increasingly practiced in Western culture.[1]

Contents

Etymology

The word meditation comes from the Indo-European root med-, meaning "to measure."[2][3] It entered English as meditation through the Latin meditatio, which originally indicated any type of physical or intellectual exercise, then later evolved into the more specific meaning "contemplation."

Practices based in spirituality and religion

Meditation has been defined as: "self regulation of attention, in the service of self-inquiry, in the here and now."[4] The various techniques of meditation can be classified according to their focus. Some focus on the field or background perception and experience, often referred to as "mindfulness"; others focus on a preselected specific object, and are called "concentrative" meditation. There are also techniques that shift between the field and the object.[5]

Bodhidharma practicing zazen.

In mindfulness meditation, the meditator sits comfortably and silently, centering attention by focusing awareness on an object or process (such as the breath; a sound, such as a mantra, koan or riddle-like question; a visualization; or an exercise). The meditator is usually encouraged to maintain an open focus:

... shifting freely from one perception to the next clear your mind of all that bothers you no thoughts that can distract you from reality or your personal being... No thought, image or sensation is considered an intrusion. The meditator, with a 'no effort' attitude, is asked to remain in the here and now. Using the focus as an 'anchor'... brings the subject constantly back to the present, avoiding cognitive analysis or fantasy regarding the contents of awareness, and increasing tolerance and relaxation of secondary thought processes.[5]

Concentration meditation is used in many religions and spiritual practices. Whereas in mindfulness meditation there is an open focus, in concentration meditation the meditator holds attention on a particular object (e.g., a repetitive prayer) while minimizing distractions; bringing the mind back to concentrate on the chosen object.

Meditation can be practiced while walking or doing simple repetitive tasks. Walking meditation helps break down habitual automatic mental categories, "thus regaining the primary nature of perceptions and events, focusing attention on the process while disregarding its purpose or final outcome."[5] In a form of meditation using visualization, such as Chinese Qi Gong, the practitioner concentrates on flows of energy (Qi) in the body, starting in the abdomen and then circulating through the body, until dispersed.[5] Some meditative traditions, such as yoga or tantra, are common to several religions.[6]

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith teaches that meditation is necessary for spiritual growth, alongside obligatory prayer and fasting. `Abdu'l-Bahá is quoted as saying:

"Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries to your mind. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves."[7]

Although the founder of the Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, never specified any particular forms of meditation, some Bahá'í practices are meditative. One of these is the daily repetition of the Arabic phrase Alláhu Abhá (Arabic: الله ابهى‎) (God is Most Glorious) 95 times preceded by ablutions. Abhá has the same root as Bahá' (Arabic: بهاء "splendor" or "glory") which Bahá'ís consider to be the "Greatest Name of God".[8]

Buddhism

Dynamic tranquilty: the Buddha in contemplation.

Buddhist meditation is fundamentally concerned with two themes: transforming the mind and using it to explore itself and other phenomena.[9] The historical Buddha himself, Siddhartha Gautama, was said to have achieved enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree. In Buddhist mythology, there were twenty eight Buddhas and all of them used meditation to make spiritual progress. Most forms of Buddhism distinguish between two classes of meditation practices, samatha and vipassana, both of which are necessary for attaining enlightenment. The former consists of practices aimed at developing the ability to focus the attention single-pointedly; the latter includes practices aimed at developing insight and wisdom through seeing the true nature of reality. The differentiation between the two types of meditation practices is not always clear cut, which is made obvious when studying practices such as anapanasati which could be said to start off as a shamatha practice but that goes through a number of stages and ends up as a vipassana practice.

Theravada Buddhism emphasizes the meditative development of mindfulness (sati, see for example the Satipatthana Sutta) and concentration (samadhi, see kammatthana), as part of the Noble Eightfold Path, in the pursuit of Nibbana (Nirvana). Theravada buddhism was the original practice, and uses a style of individuality each person is different ergo so is the path to Nirvana. Traditional popular meditation subjects include the breath (anapana) and loving-kindness (mettā).

In the Vipassana style of meditation the awareness is initially focused on the rising and falling breath and then (when respiration is almost suspended and the mind and heart still) on either some simple symbol (candle flame), body part (thumb or tip of the nose) or concept (provided any of these is unlikely to evoke emotional or intellectual disturbance).

One particularly influential school of Buddhist meditation in the 20th century was the Thai Forest Tradition which included such notable practitioners of meditation as Ajahn Thate, Ajahn Maha Bua and the Ajahn Chah.[10]

In Japanese Mahayana schools, Tendai (Tien-tai), concentration is cultivated through highly structured ritual. Especially in the Chinese Chán Buddhism school (which branched out into the Japanese Zen, and Korean Seon schools), ts'o ch'an meditation and koan meditation practices allow a practitioner to directly experience the true nature of reality (each of the names of these schools derives from the Sanskrit dhyana, and translates into "meditation" in their respective languages). The esoteric Shingon sect shares many features with Tibetan Buddhism. The Japanese haiku poet Basho saw poetry as a process of meditation concerned with the art of describing the brief appearances of the everlasting self, of eternity, in the circumstances of the world. We get a sense of this ethical purpose in his writing at the commencement of his classic work Narrow Roads to the Deep North. In a more lonely and perhaps more profound pilgrimage than Chaucer depicted in the Canterbury Tales, Basho reflects on mortality in intermingled poetry and prose as he journeys north from shrine to shrine.[11]

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana) emphasizes tantra for its senior practitioners; hence its alternate name of Tantrayana Buddhism. Many monks go through their day without "meditating" in a recognizable form, but are more likely to chant or participate in group liturgy. In this tradition, the purpose of meditation is to awaken the sky-like nature of mind, and to introduce practitioners to the true nature of mind: unchanging pure awareness, which underlies the whole of life and death.[12][13]

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well. Meditation is the road to enlightenment.- Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying[12]

Most Buddhist traditions recognize that the path to Enlightenment entails three types of training: virtue (sīla); concentration (dhyāna); and, wisdom (paññā).[14] Thus, meditative process alone is not sufficient; it is but one part of the path. In other words, in Buddhism, in tandem with mental cultivation, ethical development and wise understanding are also necessary for the attainment of the highest goal.[15]

It has been argued that meditative traditions of Buddhism (which predated the recorded birth of Jesus by 500 years and were present in Asia Minor and Alexandria during Jesus' life), influenced the development of some aspects of Christian contemplative faith (Buddhism and Christianity).[16]

Christianity

Meditation of François Saint

Christian traditions have various practices which can be identified as forms of "meditation." Monastic traditions are the basis for many of these. Practices such as the rosary, the Adoration (focusing on the eucharist) in Catholicism or the hesychast tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy, may be compared to forms of Eastern meditation that focus on an individual object. Christian meditation is considered a form of prayer. Hesychastic practice may involve recitation of the Jesus Prayer, thus "through the grace of God and one's own effort, to concentrate the nous in the heart."[17] Prayer as a form of meditation of the heart is described in the Philokalia—a practice that leads towards Theosis which ignores the senses and results in inner stillness.

In 1975, the Benedictine monk, John Main introduced a form of meditation based on repetitive recitation of a prayer-phrase, traditionally the Aramaic phrase "Maranatha," meaning "Come, Lord", as quoted at the end of both Corinthians and Revelation.[18] The World Community for Christian Meditation was founded in 1991 to continue Main's work, which the Community describes as: "teaching Christian meditation as part of the great work of our time of restoring the contemplative dimension of Christian faith in the life of the church."[19]

The Old Testament book of Joshua sets out a form of meditation based on scriptures: "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful" (Joshua 1:8). This is one of the reasons why bible verse memorization is a practice among many evangelical Christians.[20][21]

The predominant form of worship among Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, has historically been communal silent prayer or meditation which consists of focusing on the Inner Light of Christ, listening for and awaiting the movement of the "still, small voice within," which may or may not result in being moved to spoken ministry.[22]

Hinduism

The earliest clear references to meditation in Hindu literature are in the middle Upanishads and the Mahabharata, which includes the Bhagavad Gita.[23][24] According to Gavin Flood, the earlier Brihadaranyaka Upanishad refers to meditation when it states that "having becoming calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (ātman) within oneself".[25]

A large statue in Bangalore depicting Lord Shiva meditating

Raja Yoga (sometimes simply referred to as Yoga) is one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy, focusing on meditation. Dhyana, or meditation, is the seventh of eight limbs of the Raja Yoga path as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. Patanjali recommended "meditation with the Lord as the object" as a part of the spiritual practices (sadhana) that leads to samadhi, or blissful inner peace.[26] The word 'Yoga' is derived from the Sanskrit yuj, which means "to control", "to yoke", "to unite", and refers to techniques and disciplines of asceticism and meditation which lead to spiritual experience. The practices of Yoga help one to control the mind and senses so the ego can be transcended and the true self (atman) experienced, leading to moksha or liberation. Meditation in Hinduism is not confined to any school or sect and has expanded beyond Hinduism to the West.[25]

The different types of Yoga in Hinduism are designed to appeal to varieties of personality types, but to take the sincere practitioner to the same destinations in each case: first samadhi in which non-dual consciousness is experienced only in meditation and then samadhi where non-dual consciousness is experienced throughout waking activities.[27]

The influential modern proponent of Hinduism who first introduced Eastern philosophy to the West in the late 19th century, Swami Vivekananda, describes meditation as follows:

"Meditation has been laid stress upon by all religions. The meditative state of mind is declared by the Yogis to be the highest state in which the mind exists. When the mind is studying the external object, it gets identified with it, loses itself. To use the simile of the old Indian philosopher: the soul of man is like a piece of crystal, but it takes the colour of whatever is near it. Whatever the soul touches ... it has to take its colour. That is the difficulty. That constitutes the bondage."[28]

Islam

A Muslim is obliged to pray at least five times a day: once before sunrise, at noon, in the afternoon, after sunset, and once at night. During prayer a Muslim focuses and meditates on God by reciting the Qur'an and engaging in dhikr to reaffirm and strengthen the bond between Creator and creation. This guides the soul to truth.[citation needed] Such meditation is intended to help maintain a feeling of spiritual peace, in the face of whatever challenges work, social or family life may present.

The five daily acts of peaceful prayer are to serve as a template and inspiration for conduct during the rest of the day, transforming it, ideally, into one single and sustained meditation: even sleep is to be regarded as but another phase of that sustained meditation.[29]

Meditative quiescence is said to have a quality of healing, and—in contemporary terminology—enhancing creativity.[30] The Islamic prophet Muhammad spent sustained periods in contemplation and meditation. It was during one such period that Muhammad began to receive the revelations of the Qur'an.[31][32]

Following are the styles, or schools, of meditation in the Muslim traditions:

  • Tafakkur or tadabbur, literally means reflection upon the universe: this is considered to permit access to a form of cognitive and emotional development that can emanate only from the higher level, i.e. from God. The sensation of receiving divine inspiration awakens and liberates both heart and intellect, permitting such inner growth that the apparently mundane actually takes on the quality of the infinite. Muslim teachings embrace life as a test of one's submission to God.[33]
  • Meditation in the Sufi traditions is largely based on a spectrum of mystical exercises, varying from one lineage to another. Such techniques, particularly the more audacious, can be, and often have been down the ages, a source of controversy among scholars. One broad group of ulema, followers of the great Al-Ghazzali, for example, have in general been open to such techniques and forms of devotion, while another such group, those who concur with the prodigious Ibn Taymiya, reject and generally condemn such procedures as species of bid'ah (Arabic: بدعة) or mere innovation.

Numerous Sufi traditions place emphasis upon a meditative procedure similar in its cognitive aspect to one of the two principal approaches to be found in the Buddhist traditions: that of the concentration technique, involving high-intensity and sharply focused introspection. In the Oveyssi-Shahmaghsoudi Sufi order, for example, this is particularly evident, where muraqaba takes the form of tamarkoz, the latter being a Persian term that means concentration.

Jainism

Lord Mahaveer in meditative posture

Meditation has been one of the core spiritual practices undertaken by the Jains since the era of first Tirthankar Lord Rishabha.[34] All the twenty four Tirthankars have practiced deep meditation before attaining enlightenment.[35] They are all shown in meditative postures in the images or idols. Lord Mahaveer practiced deep meditation for twelve years and attained enlightenment.[34]

The Oldest Jain Canon (4th Century BCE) describes meditation of Mahavira before attaining kevala Jnana:[36]

Giving up the company of all householders whomsoever, he meditated. Asked, he gave no answer; he went, and did not transgress the right path.(AS 312) In these places was the wise Sramana for thirteen long years; he meditated day and night, exerting himself, undisturbed, strenuously. (AS 333) And Mahavira meditated (persevering) in some posture, without the smallest motion; he meditated in mental concentration on (the things) above, below, beside, free from desires. He meditated free from sin and desire, not attached to sounds or colours; though still an erring mortal (khadmastha), he wandered about, and never acted carelessly.(AS 374-375)

After more than twelve years of austerities and meditation, Mahavira entered the state of Kevala Jnana while doing shukla dhayana, the highest form of meditation:[37]

The Venerable Ascetic Mahavira passed twelve years in this way of life; during the thirteenth year in the second month of summer, in the fourth fortnight, the light (fortnight) of Vaisakha, on its tenth day called Suvrata, in the Muhurta called Vigaya, while the moon was in conjunction with the asterism Uttaraphalguni, when the shadow had turned towards the east, and the first wake was over, outside of the town Grimbhikagrama, on the northern bank of the river Rigupalika, in the field of the householder Samaga, in a north-eastern direction from an old temple, not far from a Sal tree, in a squatting position with joined heels exposing himself to the heat of the sun, with the knees high and the head low, in deep meditation, in the midst of abstract meditation,he reached Nirvana, the complete and full, the unobstructed, unimpeded, infinite and supreme best knowledge and intuition, called Kevala.

The Jains use the word Samayika, a word in the Prakrit language derived from the word samay (time), to denote the practice of meditation. The aim of Samayika is to transcend the daily experiences of being a "constantly changing" human being, Jiva, and allow for the identification with the "changeless" reality in the practitioner, the Atma. If the present moment of time is taken to be a point between the past and the future, Samayika means being fully aware, alert and conscious in that very moment, experiencing one's true nature, Atma, which is considered common to all living beings. To live in samayik is called living in the present. The Samayika takes on special significance during Paryushana, a special eight-day period practiced by the Jains. One of the main goal of Samayika is to inculcate the quality of equanimity. It encourages to be consistently spiritually vigilant. Samayaika is practiced in all the Jain sects and communities.

In Uttarādhyayana Sūtra, Mahavira explains the various benefits of meditation:[38]

Disciple: Sir, what does the soul obtain by Samayika.

Mahavira: By Samayika or moral and intellectual purity (literally, equilibrium) the soul ceases from sinful occupations

—Uttarādhyayana Sūtra 29.8

Disciple: Sir, what does the soul obtain by Kayotsarga (complete steadiness of mind and body).

Mahavira: By Kayotsarga he gets rid of past and present transgressions; thereby his mind is set at ease like a porter who is eased of his burden; and engaging in praiseworthy contemplation he enjoys happiness.

—Uttarādhyayana Sūtra 29.12

Disciple: Sir, what does the soul obtain by anupreksha (contemplation on truths of universe).

Mahavira: By anupreksha or pondering (on what he has learned) he loosens the firm hold which the seven kinds of Karman, except the ayushka (have upon the soul); he shortens their duration when it was to be a long one; he mitigates their power when it was intense; (he reduces their sphere of action when it was a wide one); he may either acquire ayushka-karman or not, but he no more accumulates Karman which produces unpleasant feelings, and he quickly crosses the very large forest of the fourfold Samsara, which is without beginning and end.

—Uttarādhyayana Sūtra 29.22

Disciple: Sir, what does the soul obtain by ekagramanahsannivesana (concentration of thoughts).

Mahavira: By ekagramanahsannivesana or concentration of his thoughts he obtains stability of the mind.

—Uttarādhyayana Sūtra 29.25

Acharya Mahaprajna, the 10th Head of Jain Swetamber Terapanth sect , formulated a well organized meditation system known as preksha meditation in 1970s. With this, he rediscovered the Jain Meditation techniques available in ancient Jain scriptures[39]. The system consists of the perception of the breath, body, the psychic centres, psychic colors, thought and of contemplation processes which can initiate the process of personal transformation. Few important contemplation themes are - Impermanence, Solitariness, Vulnerability. It aims at reaching and purifying the deeper levels of existence. Regular practice is believed to strengthen the immune system and build up stamina to resist against ageing, pollution, viruses, diseases. Meditation practice is an important part of the daily lives of the religion's monks.[40]

The kayotsarg method is found to be very useful by many Jains. Its the process of complete relaxation with high degree of self awareness.

Contemplation is a very old and important meditation technique. The practitioner meditates deeply on subtle facts. In agnya vichāya, one contemplates on seven facts - life and non-life, the inflow, bondage, stoppage and removal of karmas, and the final accomplishment of liberation. In apaya vichāya, one contemplates on the incorrect insights one indulges into and that eventually develops right insight. In vipaka vichāya, one reflects on the eight causes or basic types of karma. In sansathan vichāya, when one thinks about the vastness of the universe and the loneliness of the soul.[41]

There exists a number of meditation techniques such as pindāstha-dhyāna, padāstha-dhyāna, rūpāstha-dhyāna, rūpātita-dhyāna, savīrya-dhyāna, etc. In padāstha dhyāna one focuses on Mantras[41]. A Mantra could be either a combinations of core letters or words on deity or themes. There is a rich tradition of Mantra in Jainism. All Jain followers irrespective of their sect, whether Digambara or Svetambara practice Mantra. Mantra chanting is an important part of daily lives of Jain monks and followers. Mantra chanting can be done either loudly or silently in mind.

Judaism

There is evidence that Judaism has had meditative practices that go back thousands of years.[42] For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going "לשוח" (lasuach) in the field—a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice (Genesis 24:63), probably prayer.

Similarly, there are indications throughout the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible) that meditation was central to the prophets.[42] In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words for meditation: hāgâ (Hebrew: הגה‎), which means to sigh or murmur, but also to meditate, and sîḥâ (Hebrew: שיחה‎), which means to muse, or rehearse in one's mind.

The Jewish mystical tradition, Kabbalah, is inherently a meditative field of study. The Talmud refers to the advantage of the scholar over the prophet, as his understanding takes on intellectual, conceptual form, that deepens mental grasp, and can be communicated to others. The advantage of the prophet over the scholar is in the transcendence of their intuitive vision. The ideal illumination is achieved when the insights of mystical revelation are brought into conceptual structures. For example, Isaac Luria revealed new doctrines of Kabbalah in the 16th Century, that revolutionised and reordered its teachings into a new system. However, he did not write down his teachings, which were recounted and interpreted instead by his close circle of disciples. After a mystical encounter, called in Kabbalistic tradition an "elevation of the soul" into the spiritual realms, Isaac Luria said that it would take 70 years to explain all that he had experienced. As Kabbalah evolved its teachings took on successively greater conceptual form and philosophical system. Nonetheless, as is implied by the name of Kabbalah, which means "to receive", its exponents see that for the student to understand its teachings requires a spiritual intuitive reception that illuminates and personalises the intellectual structures.

Corresponding to the learning of Kabbalah are its traditional meditative practices, as for the Kabbalist, the ultimate purpose of its study is to understand and cleave to the Divine. Classic methods include the mental visualisation of the supernal realms the soul navigates through to achieve certain ends. One of the most well known types of meditation in early Jewish mysticism was the work of the Merkabah, from the root /R-K-B/ meaning "chariot" (of God).

In modern Jewish practice one of the best known meditative practices is called "hitbodedut" (התבודדות, alternatively transliterated as "hisbodedus"), and is explained in Kabbalistic, Hasidic, and Mussar writings, especially the Hasidic method of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav. The word derives from the Hebrew word "boded" (בודד), meaning the state of being alone. Another Hasidic system is the Habad method of "hisbonenus", related to the Sephirah of "Binah", Hebrew for understanding. This practice is the analytical reflective process of making oneself understand a mystical concept well, that follows and internalises its study in Hasidic writings.

New Age

Meditation workshop at 1979 Nambassa in New Zealand

New Age meditations are often influenced by Eastern philosophy, mysticism, Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism, yet may contain some degree of Western influence. In the West, meditation found its mainstream roots through the social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, when many of the youth of the day rebelled against traditional belief systems as a reaction against what some perceived as the failure of Christianity to provide spiritual and ethical guidance.[43] New Age meditation as practiced by the early hippies is regarded for its techniques of blanking out the mind and releasing oneself from conscious thinking. This is often aided by repetitive chanting of a mantra, or focusing on an object.[44] Many New Age groups combine yoga with meditation where the control of mind and breathing is said to be the highest yoga.[45][46]

In Zen Yoga Aaron Hoopes talks of meditation as being an avenue to touching the spiritual nature that exists within each of us.

At its core, meditation is about touching the spiritual essence that exists within us all. Experiencing the joy of this essence has been called enlightenment, nirvana, or even rebirth, and reflects a deep understanding within us. The spiritual essence is not something that we create through meditation. It is already there, deep within, behind all the barriers, patiently waiting for us to recognize it. One does not have to be religious or even interested in religion to find value in it. Becoming more aware of your self and realizing your spiritual nature is something that transcends religion. Anyone who has explored meditation knows that it is simply a path that leads to a new, more expansive way of seeing the world around us. [47]

Sikhism

In Sikhism, the practices of simran and Nām Japō encourage quiet meditation. This is focusing one's attention on the attributes of God. Sikhs believe that there are 10 'gates' to the body; 'gates' is another word for 'chakras' or energy centres. The top most energy level is the called the tenth gate or dasam dwar. When one reaches this stage through continuous practice meditation becomes a habit that continues whilst walking, talking, eating, awake and even sleeping. There is a distinct taste or flavour when a meditator reaches this lofty stage of meditation, as one experiences absolute peace and tranquility inside and outside the body.

Followers of the Sikh religion also believe that love comes through meditation on the lord's name since meditation only conjures up positive emotions in oneself which are portrayed through our actions. The first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached the equality of all humankind and stressed the importance of living a householder's life instead of wandering around jungles meditating, the latter of which being a popular practice at the time. The Guru preached that we can obtain liberation from life and death by living a totally normal family life and by spreading love amongst every human being regardless of religion.

In the Sikh religion, kirtan, otherwise known as singing the hymns of God is seen as one of the most beneficial ways of aiding meditation, and it too in some ways is believed to be a meditation of one kind.

Taoism

"Gathering the Light", Taoist meditation from The Secret of the Golden Flower

Taoism includes a number of meditative and contemplative traditions, said to have their principles described in the I Ching, Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu and Tao Tsang among other texts. The multitude of schools relating to Qigong, Neigong, Internal alchemy, Daoyin and Zhan zhuang is a large, diverse array of breath-training practices in aid of meditation with much influence on later Chinese Buddhism and with much influence on traditional Chinese medicine and the Chinese as well as some Japanese martial arts. The Chinese martial art T'ai Chi Ch'uan is named after the well-known focus for Taoist and Neo-Confucian meditation, the T'ai Chi T'u, and is often referred to as “meditation in motion”.

"The Guanzi essay 'Neiye' 內業 (Inward training) is the oldest received writing on the subject of the cultivation of vapor and meditation techniques. The essay was probably composed at the Jixia Academy in Qi in the late fourth century B.C."[48]

Often Taoist Internal martial arts, especially Tai Chi Chuan are thought of as moving meditation. A common phrase being, "movement in stillness" referring to energetic movement in passive Qigong and seated Taoist meditation; with the converse being "stillness in movement", a state of mental calm and meditation in the tai chi form.

Other

Meditation according to Krishnamurti

J Krishnamurti used the word meditation to mean something entirely different from the practice of any system or method to change the mind. He said, “Man, in order to escape his conflicts, has invented many forms of meditation. These have been based on desire, will, and the urge for achievement, and imply conflict and a struggle to arrive. This conscious, deliberate striving is always within the limits of a conditioned mind, and in this there is no freedom. All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation. Meditation is the ending of thought. It is only then that there is a different dimension which is beyond time.” For Krishnamurti, meditation was choiceless awareness in the present. He said "..When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy - if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation."[49]

Two quotes taken from film footage of talk given by Jiddu Krishnamurti to children in 1984 "Meditation means 'To be free of measurement'." "Meditation can only take place when there is no effort, when there is no contradiction."[50]

Meditation using beads

Many religions have their own Prayer beads. Most prayer beads and Christian rosaries consist of pearls or beads linked together by a thread. The Roman Catholic rosary is a string of beads containing five sets with ten small beads. Each set of ten is separated by another bead. The Hindu japa mala has 108 beads, as also in Jainism, as may the Buddhist juzu. The Muslim mishbaha has 99 beads. Prayers and specific meditations of each religion are different and there are theological reasons for the number of beads. Prayer beads may come in different colors, sizes and designs. However, the central purpose, which is to pray repetitively and to meditate, is the same across all religions that use them as a prayer tool.[citation needed]

Secular practices

A collective meditation in Sri Lanka

Forms of meditation which are devoid of religious content have been developed in the west as a way of promoting physical and mental well being, although they may also be used in a spiritual context:

Jacobson's Progressive Muscle Relaxation was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s. Jacobson argued that since muscular tension accompanies anxiety, one can reduce anxiety by learning how to relax the muscular tension.

Autogenic training was developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Schultz in 1932. Schultz emphasized parallels to techniques in yoga and meditation; however, autogenic training is devoid of any mysticism.

Australian psychiatrist Dr Ainslie Meares published a groundbreaking work in the 1960s entitled Relief Without Drugs, in which he recommended some simple, secular relaxation techniques based on Hindu practices as a means of combating anxiety, stress and chronic physical pain.

Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School conducted a series of clinical tests on meditators from various disciplines including Transcendental Meditation and Tibetan Buddhism. In 1975 Benson published a book titled The Relaxation Response where he outlined his own version of meditation for relaxation.

The 1999 book The Calm Technique: Meditation Without Magic or Mysticism by Paul Wilson has a discussion and instruction in a form of secular meditation.

Biofeedback has been tried by many researchers since the 1950s as a way to enter deeper states of mind.[51]

Natural Stress Relief is a form of meditation which uses a silent mantra.

Acem Meditation has been developed in the Scandinavian countries since 1966. It is non-religious technique with no requirement for change of lifestyle or adaption to any system of belief.

Sound and light techniques of meditation are based on the results of studies with electroencephalography in long-term meditators. Studies have demonstrated the presence of a frequency-following response to auditory and visual stimuli. This EEG activity was termed "frequency-following response" because its period (cycles per second) corresponds to the fundamental frequency of the stimulus. Stated plainly, if the stimulus is 5 Hz, the resulting measured EEG will show a 5 Hz frequency-following response using appropriate time-domain averaging protocols.[52][53] This is the justification behind such inventions as the Dreamachine and binaural beats. Binaural beats and other audio techniques form the basis of the techniques at The Monroe Institute.

In a Western context

"Meditation" in its modern sense refers to Yogic meditation that originated in India. In the late nineteenth century, Theosophists adopted the word "meditation" to refer to various spiritual practices drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and other Indian religions. Thus the English word "meditation" does not exclusively translate to any single term or concept, and can be used to translate words such as the Sanskrit dhāraṇā, dhyana, samadhi and bhavana.

Meditation may be for a religious purpose, but even before being brought to the West it was used in secular contexts, such as the martial arts. Beginning with the Theosophists, though, meditation has been employed in the West by a number of religious and spiritual movements, such as Yoga, New Age and the New Thought movement, as well as limited use in Christianity.

Meditation techniques have also been used by Western theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Relaxation training works toward achieving mental and muscle relaxation to reduce daily stresses. Jacobson is credited with developing the initial progressive relaxation procedure. These techniques are used in conjunction with other behavioral techniques. Originally used with systematic desensitization, relaxation techniques are now used with other clinical problems. Meditation, hypnosis and biofeedback-induced relaxation are a few of the techniques used with relaxation training. One of the eight essential phases of EMDR (developed by Shapiro), bringing adequate closure to the end of each session, also entails the use of relaxation techniques, including meditation. Multimodal therapy, a technically eclectic approach to behavioral therapy, also employs the use of meditation as a technique used in individual therapy.[54]

From the point of view of psychology and physiology, meditation can induce an altered state of consciousness, and its goals in that context have been stated to achieving spiritual enlightenment, to the transformation of attitudes, and to better cardiovascular health.

Physical postures

Half-lotus position.

Different spiritual traditions, and different teachers within those traditions, prescribe or suggest different physical postures for meditation. Sitting, supine, and standing[55] postures are used. Most famous are the several cross-legged sitting postures, including the Lotus Position.

Spine

Many meditative traditions teach that the spine should be kept "straight," that is, the individual should sit erect but relaxed. Often this is explained as a way of encouraging the circulation of what some call "spiritual energy," the "vital breath", the "life force" (Sanskrit prana, Chinese qi, Latin spiritus) or the Kundalini. In some traditions the practitioner may sit on a chair, flat-footed (as in New Thought); sit on a stool (as in Orthodox Christianity); or walk in mindfulness (as in Theravada Buddhism).

Other traditions, such as those related to kundalini yoga, take a less formal approach. While the basic practice in these traditions is also to sit still quietly in a traditional posture, they emphasize the possibility of kriyas - spontaneous yogic postures, changes in breathing patterns or emotional states, or perhaps repetitive physical movements such as swaying, etc., which may naturally arise as the practitioner sits in meditation, and which should not be resisted but rather allowed to express themselves to enhance the natural flow of energy through the body. This is said to help purify the nadis and ultimately deepen one's meditative practice.[56]

Mudra/hand

Bas-relief in Sukhothai, Thailand depicting monks during walking meditation.

Various hand-gestures or mudras may be prescribed in meditation. These can carry theological meaning or according to Yogic philosophy can actually affect consciousness, mood and energy. For example, a common Buddhist hand-position is with the right hand resting atop the left (like the Buddha's begging bowl), with the thumbs touching. Each finger is associated with a different sensitivity, and the belief is that finger endings locked into mudras create subtle energy shifts due to the different circuit connections. Pressing on finger endings also stimulates brain sections relating to different qualities - which a practitioner may want to enhance though meditation to create specific affects or changes.

Eye Focus and Gaze

In most meditative traditions, the eyes are closed. In some schools such as Zen, the eyes are half-closed, half open and looking slightly downward. In others such as Brahma Kumaris, the eyes are kept fully open. Others may keep the eye-lids 1/10th or barely open depending on what drishti (eye focus in kundalini yoga - meaning "vision" or "insight" in Sanskrit) the meditation instructs. Different eye focus points have different effects, and points such as the 3rd eye, or gazing over the nose help to lock the brain into a point of stillness. Pictures of saints in meditation may reflect different eye postures, and different meditations may call for staring into a saints eyes, a candle flame, or other object of focus (trataka meditation).

Often such details are shared by more than one religion, even in cases where mutual influence seems unlikely. One example is "navel-gazing," which is apparently attested within Eastern Orthodoxy as well as Chinese qigong practice. Another is the practice of focusing on the breath, found in Orthodox Christianity, Sufism, and numerous Indic traditions.

In Sufism meditation (muraqaba) with eyes closed is called Varood while with open eyes is known as Shahood or Fa'tha.

Mantra

While quiet or stillness is often desirable, some people use repetitive activities such as deep breathing, humming or chanting of mantra to help induce a meditative state. In Sikhism recitation and repetition of mantra and hymns or shabad, which describe the qualities of God, creates an experiential connection with Divinity. Bij (or "seed" in Gurmukhi) mantras are repeated constantly, deeply planted in the mind as constant reminders of Oneness. Buddhists regard the recitation of mantras as a means for cutting off previous negative karma. In yogic science, man-tra ("man" meaning mind, "tra" to cut) helps "yoke" the mind to a more conscious and harmonious vibration. Mantra can affect the mind through combination (mudra) of tongue and palate. The repetition of mantra can aid meditation, clear the subconscious of unhealthy attachments, provide anchored stability, counter information overload, and break accumulated mental patterns.

All religions use forms of mantra such as with prayers, rosaries, ceremony; even the Christian "Amen" is a form of mantra.

Cross-legged sitting

Cross legged sitting, as in posture helps create a stable base for meditation that offers the least discomfort and distraction for extended periods of meditation. Several different varieties of seated asanas are practiced depending on the culture - ranging from easy crossed legs, to siddhasana ("perfect pose"), or the half and full lotus postures. Sitting on the heels is also possible. Seated meditation cushions often help extend meditative time and serve to elevate the hips and spine into proper alignment. Sitting cross-legged (or upon one's knees) for extended periods when one is not sufficiently limber, can result in a range of ergonomic complaints called "meditator's knee". Many meditative traditions do not require sitting cross legged.

Health applications and clinical studies

Scenes of Inner Taksang, temple hall, built just above the cave where Padmasambhava was believed to have meditated

A review of scientific studies identified relaxation, concentration, an altered state of awareness, a suspension of logical thought and the maintenance of a self-observing attitude as the behavioral components of meditation;[5] it is accompanied by a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body that alter metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain chemistry.[57] Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction. Meditation has also been studied specifically for its effects on stress.[58][59]

In June, 2007 the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine published an independent, peer-reviewed, meta-analysis of the state of meditation research, conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center. The report reviewed 813 studies in five broad categories of meditation: mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong. The report concluded that "[t]he therapeutic effects of meditation practices cannot be established based on the current literature," and "firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence. However, the results analyzed from methodologically stronger research include findings sufficiently favorable to emphasize the value of further research in this field."[60]

In popular fiction

Various forms of meditation have been described in popular culture sources. In particular, science fiction stories such as Frank Herbert's 'Dune', Star Trek, Artemis Fowl, Star Wars, Maskman, Lost Horizon by James Hilton, and Stargate SG-1 have featured characters who practice one form of meditation or another. Mediation also appears as the overt theme of novels such as Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. Usually these practices are inspired by real-world meditation traditions, but sometimes they have very different methods and purposes.[citation needed]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Tart, C. "Adapting Eastern spiritual teachings to Western culture". The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 22: 149–166. 
  2. ^ Take Our Word For it Archive of Etymology Questions: Mediation
  3. ^ American Heritage Dictionary: List of Indo European Roots
  4. ^ Maison, A.; Herbert, J.R.; Werheimer, M.d.; & Kabat-Zinn, J. (1999). "Meditation, melatonin and breast/prostate cancer: hypothesis and preliminary data,". Medical Hypotheses 12 (1): 12-19. doi:10.1016/0306-9877(95)90299-6. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Perez-De-Albeniz, Alberto; Jeremy Holmes (March 2000). "Meditation: concepts, effects and uses in therapy". International Journal of Psychotherapy 5 (1): 49–59. doi:10.1080/13569080050020263. http://onwww.net/trancenet.org/research/2000perezdealbeniz.shtml. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  6. ^ Zen Buddhism: A History (India and China) By Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter
  7. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1995) [1912]. Paris Talks. Bahá'í Distribution Service. pp. 175. ISBN 1870989570. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PT/pt-55.html. 
  8. ^ Smith, P. (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. pp. 243. ISBN 1851681841. 
  9. ^ B. Alan Wallace, Contemplative Science. Columbia University Press, 2007, p. 81.
  10. ^ Tiyavanich K. Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand. University of Hawaii Press, 1997.
  11. ^ Nobuyuki Yuasa 'Introduction' in Basho. Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches Nobuyuki Yuasa (trans) Penguin Books. Harmondsworth 1966 p37
  12. ^ a b Sogyal, Rinpoche (1994) The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Patrick Gaffney and Andrew Harvey eds. New York: Harper Collins.
  13. ^ Ground, Path, and Fruition: Mind-Nature Teachings Concerning the View, Meditation, and Action of Dzogpa Chenpo, the Innate Great Perfection. Compiled by Surya Das with Nyoshul Khenpo. Retrieved on; August 25, 2007.
  14. ^ For instance, from the Pali Canon, see MN 44 (Thanissaro, 1998a) and AN 3:88 (Thanissaro, 1998b). In Mahayana tradition, the Lotus Sutra lists the Six Perfections (paramita) which echoes the threefold training with the inclusion of virtue (śīla), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (prajñā).
  15. ^ Dharmacarini Manishini, Western Buddhist Review. Accessed at http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol4/kamma_in_context.html
  16. ^ Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage, Part One (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935), vol. 1, p. 449
  17. ^ Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos The Mind of the Orthodox Church. IX. The “Synodikon of Orthodoxy,” 4c) Hesychasm. www.pelagia.org. Retrieved on: February 2, 2008.
  18. ^ The World Community for Christian Meditation. How to Meditate
  19. ^ The World Community for Christian Meditation Welcome. www.wccm.org/home. Retrieved on: February 2, 2008.
  20. ^ Ascension Mission Prayer and Meditation. Retrieved on January 20, 2008
  21. ^ Christian Meditation. Retrieved on January 20, 2008
  22. ^ Religious Society of Friends (August 2008). "Advices, Queries and Voices." Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Retrieved on November 19, 2008.
  23. ^ Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 51. The earliest reference is actually in the Mokshadharma, which dates to the early Buddhist period.
  24. ^ The Katha Upanishad describes yoga, including mediation. On meditation in this and other post-Buddhist Hindu literature see Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. Harvard University Press, 2000, page 199.
  25. ^ a b Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–95 location = Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-43878-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=KpIWhKnYmF0C&pg=PA94. 
  26. ^ Klostermaier, Klaus (1989). A survey of Hinduism. SUNY Press. pp. 402–403. ISBN 9780887068072. http://books.google.com/books?id=ltn3OuF_i4sC&pg=PA402. 
  27. ^ Barbara Stoler Miller (trans) Yoga. Discipline of Freedom. The Yoga Sutras Attributed to Patanjali. Uni of California Press (1996) p5.
  28. ^ Swami Vivekananda. Complete Works Vol 4. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_4/Lectures_and_Discourses/Meditation
  29. ^ 3 Al Emran, verses 189-194; 6 Al Anaam verses 160 to 163.
  30. ^ Dwivedi, Kedar Nath. Review:Freedom from Self, Sufism, Meditation and Psychotherapy. Group Analysis, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 434-436, December 1989
  31. ^ Nigosian, S. A. (2004). Islam. Its History, Teaching, and Practices. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 111. 
  32. ^ The Final Testament by Rashad Khalifa, Appendix 28 - Muhammad Wrote God's Revelations With His Own Hand submission.org. Retrieved on: January 8, 2009.
  33. ^ Khalifa, Rashad (2001). Quran: The Final Testament. Universal Unity. pp. 536. 
  34. ^ a b "01.01 Traditions of shramanas". Bhagwan Mahavira. JVB, Ladnun, India. 1995. http://www.herenow4u.net/index.php?id=66251. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  35. ^ "1 History and Tradition". Introduction to Jainism. JVB, Ladnun, India. 2007. 
  36. ^ *Jacobi, Hermann (1884). (ed.) F. Max Müller. ed (in English: translated from Prakrit). The Ācāranga Sūtra. Sacred Books of the East vol.22, Part 1. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. ISBN 070071538X. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jai/sbe22/sbe2200.htm. 
  37. ^ *Jacobi, Hermann (1884). (ed.) F. Max Müller. ed (in English: translated from Prakrit). The Ācāranga Sūtra. Sacred Books of the East vol.22, Part 1. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. ISBN 070071538X. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jai/sbe22/sbe2200.htm.  verse 986
  38. ^ *Jacobi, Hermann (1895). (ed.) F. Max Müller. ed (in English: translated from Prakrit). The Uttarādhyayana Sūtra. Sacred Books of the East vol.45, Part 2. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. ISBN 070071538X. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jai/sbe45/index.htm. 
  39. ^ Preksha Meditation preksha.com. Retrieved on: August 25, 2007
  40. ^ J. Zaveri What is Preksha?. .jzaveri.com. Retrieved on: August 25, 2007.
  41. ^ a b "07 Yoga and Meditation (2)". Introduction To Jainism. Prakrit Bharti Academy, jaipur, India. 2006. http://www.herenow4u.net/index.php?id=66251. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  42. ^ a b Shapiro, R. A Brief Introduction to Jewish Meditation. tripod.com. Retrieved on: August 25, 2007.
  43. ^ The Hippies 1968-07
  44. ^ Barnia, George (1996). religioustolerance.org The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators. Dallas TX: Word Publishing. http://www.religioustolerance.org/newage.htm religioustolerance.org. 
  45. ^ http://www.spaceandmotion.com/health/yoga-meditation-new-age-spirituality.htm
  46. ^ http://www.dharmacentral.com/articles/newage.htm
  47. ^ Hoopes, Aaron (2007). Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment though Breathing, Movement and Meditation. Kodansha International. ISBN 9784770030474. 
  48. ^ Harper, Donald; Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy (1999/2007). The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC.. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. pp. 880. http://books.google.com/books?id=cHA7Ey0-pbEC&dq=cambridge++history+of+ancient+china&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=AdFPS6TcB5W6tgPTy632DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=&f=false. 
  49. ^ Krishnamurti Foundation Trust. Meditation. From Chapter 15 of Freedom from the Known, J. Krishnamurti (1969) Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-064808-2. Retrieved on: August 26, 2007.
  50. ^ Quotes by Jiddu Krishnamurti to children in 1984 YouTube Link at time interval 13:40 .
  51. ^ The Healing History of EEG Biofeedback Eagle Life Communications Accessed March 2007 .
  52. ^ Atwater, FH (1997). "Inducing States of Consciousness with a Binaural Beat Technology". The Monroe Institute. http://www.monroeinstitute.com/content.php?content_id=21. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  53. ^ Noton, D (1997). "PMS, EEG, and photic stimulation". http://www.elixa.com/mental/Noton.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  54. ^ Corey, G. (March 2000). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (6th ed.).. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co.. pp. 550. ISBN 0534348238. 
  55. ^ Marshall, Chris. "Paradoxes of Standing Meditation". http://www.martialdevelopment.com/blog/four-paradoxes-of-standing-meditation/. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  56. ^ Smith 1986, p. 69.
  57. ^ Lazar, S.W.; Bush, G.; Gollub, R. L.; Fricchione, G. L.; Khalsa, G.; Benson, H. Functional brain mapping of the relaxation response and meditation" NeuroReport: Volume 11(7) 15 May 2000 pp. 1581–1585 PubMed abstract PMID 10841380
  58. ^ Kabat-Zinn, Jon; Lipworth L, Burney R. (1985). "The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain". Journal of Behavioral Medicine 8 (2): 163–190. doi:10.1007/BF00845519. PMID 3897551. 
  59. ^ Davidson, Richard J.; et al. (2003 July-August). "Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation". Psychosomatic Medicine 65 (4): 564–570. doi:10.1097/01.PSY.0000077505.67574.E3. PMID 12883106. 
  60. ^ Ospina MB, Bond K, Karkhaneh M, et al. (June 2007). "Meditation practices for health: state of the research" (pdf). Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) (155): 1–263. PMID 17764203. http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/meditation/medit.pdf. 

References

  • Austin, James H. (1999) Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999, ISBN 0-262-51109-6
  • Azeemi, Khawaja Shamsuddin Azeemi (2005) Muraqaba: The Art and Science of Sufi Meditation. Houston: Plato, 2005, ISBN 0-9758875-4-8
  • Bennett-Goleman, T. (2001) Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart, Harmony Books, ISBN 0-609-60752-9
  • Benson, Herbert and Miriam Z. Klipper. (2000 [1972]). The Relaxation Response. Expanded Updated edition. Harper. ISBN 0380815958
  • Craven JL. (1989) Meditation and psychotherapy. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Oct;34(7):648-53. PubMed abstract PMID 2680046
  • Hayes SC, Strosahl KD, Wilson KG. (1999) Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Kutz I, Borysenko JZ, Benson H. (1985) Meditation and psychotherapy: a rationale for the integration of dynamic psychotherapy, the relaxation response, and mindfulness meditation. American Journal of Psychiatry, Jan;142(1):1-8. PubMed abstract PMID 3881049
  • Lazar, Sara W. (2005) "Mindfulness Research." In: Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Germer C, Siegel RD, Fulton P (eds.) New York: Guildford Press.
  • Lutz, Antoine; Richard J. Davidson; et al. (2004). "Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (November 16): 16369. doi:10.1073/pnas.0407401101. PMID 15534199. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/101/46/16369. 
  • Metzner R. (2005) Psychedelic, Psychoactive and Addictive Drugs and States of Consciousness. In Mind-Altering Drugs: The Science of Subjective Experience, Chap. 2. Mitch Earlywine, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • MirAhmadi, As Sayed Nurjan Healing Power of Sufi Meditation The Healing Power of Sufi Meditation Paperback: 180 pages Publisher: Islamic Supreme Council of America (June 30, 2005) Language: English
  • Nirmalananda Giri, Swami (2007) Om Yoga: It's Theory and Practice In-depth study of the classical meditation method of the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the Upanishads.
  • Perez-De-Albeniz, Alberto & Holmes, Jeremy (2000) Meditation: Concepts, Effects And Uses In Therapy. International Journal of Psychotherapy, March 2000, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p49, 10p
  • Shalif, Ilan et al. (1989) Focusing on the Emotions of Daily Life (Tel-Aviv: Etext Archives, 2008)
  • Shapiro DH Jr. (1992) Adverse effects of meditation: a preliminary investigation of long-term meditators. Int. Journal of Psychosom. 39(1-4):62-7. PubMed abstract PMID 1428622
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, ISBN 0-06-250834-2
  • Smith, Fritz Frederick (1986): Inner Bridges: A Guide to Energy Movement and Body Structure, Humanics Ltd. Partners, ISBN 978-0893340865.
  • Tart, Charles T., editor. Altered States of Consciousness (1969) ISBN 0-471-84560-4
  • Trungpa, C. (1973) Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Shambhala South Asia Editions, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Trungpa, C. (1984) Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Shambhala Dragon Editions, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Erhard Vogel. (2001) Journey Into Your Center, Nataraja Publications, ISBN 1-892484-05-6
  • Wenner, Melinda. "Brain Scans Reveal Why Meditation Works." LiveScience.com. 30 June 2007.

Further reading

  • Ajahn Brahm, Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond. ISBN 978-0861712755
  • Cooper, David. A. The Art of Meditation: A Complete Guide. ISBN 81-7992-164-6
  • Easwaran, Eknath. Meditation. ISBN 0-915132-66-4 New edition: Passage Meditation. ISBN 978-158638-026-7
  • Krishnamurti, Jiddu. This Light in Oneself: True Meditation, 1999, Shambhala Publications. ISBN 1-57062-442-9
  • Long, Barry. Meditation: A Foundation Course — A Book of Ten Lessons. ISBN 1-899-32400-3
  • Hart, William. Art of Living, Vipassana Meditation, ISBN 0060637242, ISBN 978-0-06-063724-8
  • Meiche, Michele. Meditation for Everyday Living. ISBN 09-710374-69
  • Levin, Michal. Meditation, Path to the Deepest Self, Dorling Kindersley, 2002. ISBN 978-0789483331
  • Goenka, S. N.. Meditation Now: Inner Peace through Inner Wisdom, ISBN 1928706231, ISBN 978-1928706236
  • Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Contents

Meditation

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Meditation is the soul's perspective glass, whereby, in her long remove, she discerneth God, as if He were nearer at hand.
    • Owen Feltham, p. 406.
  • Profound meditation in solitude and silence frequently exalts the mind above its natural tone, fires the imagination, and produces the most refined and sublime conceptions. The soul then tastes the purest and most refined delight, and almost loses the idea of existence in the intellectual pleasure it receives. The mind on every motion darts through space into eternity; and raised, in its free enjoyment of its powers by its own enthusiasm, strengthens itself in the habitude of contemplating the noblest subjects, and of adopting the most heroic pursuits.
    • John G. Zimmerman, p. 406.
  • It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most on Divine truth, that will prove the choicest, wisest, strongest Christian.
  • For with all our pretension to enlightenment, are we not now a talking, desultory, rather than a meditative generation?
  • It is an excellent sign, that after the cares and labors of the day, you can return to your pious exercises and meditations with undiminished attention.
  • Night by night I will lie down and sleep in the thought of God, and in the thought, too, that my waking may be in the bosom of the Father; and some time it will be, so I trust.
  • Avoid all refined speculations; confine yourself to simple reflections, and recur to them frequently. Those who pass too rapidly from one truth to another feed their curiosity and restlessness; they even distract their intellect with too great a multiplicity of views. Give every truth time to send down deep root into the heart.

Unsourced

  • Meditation is the life of the soul; action is the soul of meditation; honor is the reward of action; so meditate, that thou mayst do; so do, that thou mayst purchase honor; for which purchase, give God the glory.

External links

Wikipedia
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Look up meditation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Lesson 1 (Meditation & Disintegration)

This Lesson will introduce the psychological ("Positive Disintegrate-ive ")dimensions of the decision to seriously take-up Meditation. These dimensions are the:

  • point of Human Development at which the decision is normally made;
  • personality type most likely to succeed with Meditation.

Purpose

This Lesson will..:

  • Introduce the general nature of Laurence Nixon's paper on "The Role of Meditation in Personality Change from the Perspective of the ‘Theory of Positive Disintegration’."
  • Examine just why serious Meditation is virtually impossible at Level's One and Two of Human Development;
  • Spotlight the factors of Depression / Sadness and Joy which characterize Meditation at Level Three of Human Development;
  • Hi-light the expressions of "Planned Solitude" which [expressions] are characteristic of Level Four development.

Learning hints

As you read the Sources,look for the following:

  • Clear understanding of correlation of "psychosomatic disorder" to the need to Meditate;
  • Your own resonance to the material presented under "C" / Transition to Level Three";
  • A grasp of the "logic" whereby Depression / Sadness can co-exist with Joy for the person taking up Meditation at Level Three;
  • The manner in which "Planned Solitude" becomes integral with the character / life-style of the person at Level Four development.

To begin the study of this lesson, click here.


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Meditation / Recueillement
by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Frank Pearce Sturm
Translated by F. P. Sturm (1879 - 1942), published 1905. Source: The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire with an Introductory Preface by James Huneker, 1919.



Meditation


Thou, O my Grief, be wise and tranquil still,
The eve is thine which even now drops down,
To carry peace or care to human will,
And in a misty veil enfolds the town.

While the vile mortals of the multitude,
By pleasure, cruel tormentor, goaded on,
Gather remorseful blossoms in light mood —
Grief, place thy hand in mine, let us be gone

Far from them. Lo, see how the vanished years,
In robes outworn lean over heaven's rim;
And from the water, smiling through her tears,

Remorse arises, and the sun grows dim;
And in the east, her long shroud trailing light,
List, O my grief, the gentle steps of Night.

The note on the translation:

This translation is hosted with different licensing information than from the original text. The translation status applies to this edition.
Original:
PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
Translation:
PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1942, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also meditation

German

Noun

Meditation f. (plural: Meditationen)

  1. meditation

Wikibooks

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Happiness/Meditation article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Contents

Meditation

According to Wikipedia, meditation is usually defined as one or more of the following:

  • a state of relaxed concentration on the reality of the present moment
  • a state that is experienced when the mind dissolves and is free of all thoughts focusing the mind on a single object (such as a religious statue, or one's breath, or a mantra)
  • a mental "opening up" to the divine, invoking the guidance of a higher power

Meditation can be a helpful daily practice. It can help you relax, release stress, and put your day into perspective. It can also be used in place of a power nap, on your lunch hour to refocus on the present and put a lid on the morning. You can do a quick 5 minutes in your car after you drive home and before you see the kids so you can give your loved ones the best version of you and not the drained post-work you.

This guide book will help you with the physical practice of meditation, and is not to be thought of as a spiritual text or even an authoritative list of meditation techniques. It is in no ways complete. As always, feel free Be Bold or comment on the Talk page.

Setting & Preparation

There are many things you can do before you even start to meditate that might help your experience. First, if at all possible, find a place in your house that you can meditate in that is free of distraction. It can be an entire room, corner of a guest bedroom, or even a pillow. It helps if this space is not used for any other purpose, so that your mind will associate this location with the experience of meditation. You may want to be able to control the level of light and noise in the location you are meditating in. Wear loose fitting comfortable clothing. Take off your shoes.

Similarly, it can help to find a time that you can meditate. Early in the day tends to work better, as you are free of distractions that will come with your work-a-day life. Also if you start your day off with meditation, you may be able to “hold the calm” with you all day increasing the benefit of meditating. Start with just ten or 15 minutes at first, and slowly increase until you find a duration that works for you. During meditation you may not judge time correctly, thinking “it must have been half an hour by now” only to see that it has only been seven minutes. It may help to have an “egg timer” around so you can set your meditation duration as you start and not be distracted. This will stop you from looking at your watch. Some people start off just meditating on days off or weekends, but most seem to work it into a daily habit, like morning coffee.

Finally, remove yourself from your everyday life. Turn off your cell phone. Let loved ones or roommates know what you are trying to do and ask for no interruptions. Do whatever it takes to put your mind at ease and forget about everything outside of your meditation. If that means closing the door or window to that room, do that.

Techniques

Here are a few ways to meditate. Give them a try and see which is right for you.

Meditation of Breath

Go to your meditation location and sit comfortably on a small pillow or folded towel. Keep your back “straight”, meaning do not slump. Keep your head up and straight. Relax your eyes. If you wish to close them, do so. Try to clear your mind of everything besides yourself sitting, breathing, and relaxing.

Breathe deeply through the nose for a count of four. Feel the air enter your nose, move down to your chest and fill your lungs. Hold your breath for a count of four. Then exhale slowly for a count of four. Feel as the air leaves your lungs and goes through your nose. Some also hold their breath for a count of four at this point. Try it and see if this helps you. Repeat this for the duration of your meditation. You should be thinking about your breath the entire time. Feel the air enter you, filling you with life giving oxygen, and then leave you with waste gases. Contemplate the fact that you breathe every moment of your life and almost never think about it. This is the time to be thinking about it. Feel how your body moves when you breathe.

An important part of this meditation is concentration. As your mind clears, thoughts will come up. As this happens, just note to yourself that you were thinking and bring your mind back to your breath. Don't get upset that you let your mind wander. It's a good sign, a healthy reaction from your personality trying to reclaim your mind. As you let yourself be in control of your mind most of the time, meditation is the time where you let your mind be empty. You may note that the faucet in the next room still drips every so often, or that people drive by with loud radios, but you let your attention to them just be noted and return your thoughts to your breath.

This can be helpful at random times in life when circumstance gets you stressed out. You are still breathing and can divert your mind for just a few moments to your breath and reclaim the calm of meditation.

Devotional Meditation

This practice is similar to the above meditation of breath, but instead of having your mind focused on your breath, it will be focused on an object, such as the flame of a candle or a picture of a spiritual leader.

Relaxation Meditation

This technique will help you relax and is a meditation of the body. Be aware that if you are already sleepy, this practice may put you to sleep. If that is not your goal, be mindful of drowsiness.

Lie down on a bed or yoga mat. Get into a comfortable position and relax your body. Then move through a simple procedure of 'stretch and relax' of parts of your body.

  • Start with your toes. Slowly curl your toes in tightly while inhaling and then gently stretch your toes, fully extending them while exhaling. Then relax that part of your body fully. Give it a full breath and imagine all tension from that part of the body leaving you with your exhale. If you still feel tension in that area, repeat this entire for that body part.
  • Move up your legs and tighten and then stretch your calves. Make sure to synchronize your movements with your breath, tension with inhale, relaxation & stretching with exhale.

Continue with the rest of the body moving up

  1. Toes
  2. Thighs
  3. Hips
  4. Lower back / stomach
  5. Upper back / shoulders
  6. Upper arms
  7. Hands / Lower arms
  8. Neck
  9. Face (you may have to open your mouth or even say “Ahh” as part of the relaxation).

You may repeat these processes as many times as needed to become fully relaxed. You may also change the order and move from your head down to your toes. When the whole of your body is relaxed, only your mind remains active and from here you can continue to a different meditation.

References

  • Ram Dass (1978) Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook Bantam.

Simple English

Meditation is to try to get past the "thinking" mind, and into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness.

Meditation is used in Buddhism , Christianity (sometimes), Hinduism ( where Yoga is important ) and other religions.

Contents

Buddhist Meditation

Buddhism


Basic terms

Three Jewels
Four Noble Truths
Noble Eightfold Path
Buddhahood
Enlightenment
Nirvana

People

Gautama Buddha
Dalai Lama
Bodhisattva
Sangha

Schools

Theravada
Mahayana
Zen
Vajrayana
Nyingma Kagyu Sakya Gelug

Practices

study Dharma
Meditation
Metta

In Buddhism, three things are very important: being a good person, making the mind stronger, and understanding why people are in pain (Dukkha).[1] Meditation is the main way that Buddhists make their minds stronger.

Buddhist meditation is not just used for spiritual reasons. In general, Buddhist meditation can help anyone calm their body and mind. Research shows that Buddhist meditation lowers stress, anxiety and depression.[2]

For Buddhists, meditation is used to calm the mind so that the mind can better see the cause of pain. Buddhists believe that this type of seeing can end pain.[3]

Most types of Buddhist meditation focus on something. The most popular things to focus on include the breath, love, other emotions, and religious images and sounds.[4]

Most Buddhists find that a teacher and support and encouragement from other members of the Buddhist community are important elements of meditation practice. The Buddhist community is also known as the Sangha.

Christian meditation

Christians sometimes meditate by thinking about small parts of the Bible, or by saying the words of a prayer to themselves over and over.

See also: Meditation (in Krishna consciousness)

Notes

  1. In Buddhism, these three things together are called the "threefold training." In the words of 2,000-year-old Buddhist books, these three things are called sīla, citta (or samādhi) and paññā. See, for example, Thanissaro (1998a) and Thanissaro (1998b).
  2. Kabat-Zinn (1990); and, Linehan (1993), p. 1.
  3. See, for instance, Thanissaro (1998c).
  4. See, for example, Kamalashila (2003).

References

  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. NY: Dell Publishing. ISBN 0-385-30312-2.
  • Linehan, Marsha M. (1993). Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. NY: Guilford Press. ISBN 0-89862-034-1.

Other websites








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