Showing posts with label transcendental meditation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transcendental meditation. Show all posts

Meditative Double Arrowed Attention Yogic Gaze





Attention with two arrows (Witnessing). 


Witnessing is known as samyag darshan in Vedic science. This is a procedure in which you look both forth and yourself at the same time. 


When we stare at a tree, a star, a mountain, or an owl, something leaves our eyes, travels to the item, and then returns to us. 

  • We draw attention what comes out of our eyes in order to contact the object of perception. 
  • According to Ayurveda, attention occurs when prana leaves the body and conveys the vibration of consciousness to the object. 
  • As a result, awareness plus prana, or movement, equals attentiveness. 
  • One of the arrows extends and makes contact with the thing. 
  • A second arrow of attention should go inward, toward the core of our heart, to observe the observer at the same time. 
  • When you're gazing at something outside, gaze at the looker; watch the watcher; observe the observer at the same time. 
  • When the observer is observed, the watcher vanishes. Witnessing is the act of just watching without being watched. 

You acquire intimacy, or a relationship, with the object of perception as a result of that witnessing.



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So-Hum Meditation

 



We sit silently and monitor our breath in So-Hum meditation, much as we do in Empty Bowl meditation, but we add the sounds So on inhalation and Hum on expiration. (Only quietly; the noises are not spoken loudly.) 

It becomes light when music, breath, and consciousness come together. Every atom emits light and heat energy, which is a quantum wave, as we've seen. 

When we pay attention to our breath and begin to feel So-Hum, So-Hum with it, our breath transforms into a quantum wave that emits light. 

The third eye is where you may view the brightness of life. Expiration (breathing out) is the opposite of inspiration (breathing in). 

With its first breath, a child's existence reveals itself with inspiration. 

When someone dies, we refer to him as having expired. The air has been extinguished. The word hum implies "I" or "individual ego," as well as "He, the Divine." 

So, as So enters, life force enters, and Hum, ego, our finite personality, exits in the natural path of So-Hum meditation. 

That is what So-Hum meditation is all about. You are inhaling life when you inhale So. 

You are expelling ego and restriction as you exhale Hum. 

When So-Hum meditation is done correctly, it leads to the individual's unification with the global Cosmic Consciousness. 

You will move beyond cognition, time and space, cause, and effect, and so forth. Limitations will be obliterated. 

Your consciousness will empty itself, and because of that emptying, it will expand, bringing serenity and joy as a blessing.



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Empty Bowl Meditation

 

 

  • Sit comfortably and calmly on your knees with your hands up and open, as if they were empty bowls.
  • Open your mouth slightly and place your tongue behind your front teeth on the roof of your mouth.
  • Begin by focusing on your breathing.
  • Allow your lungs to breathe naturally without exerting any effort. Simply observe the flow of your breath. Inhale deeply.
  • Take a deep breath out. Air contacts the inside of the nostrils during inhalation.
  • Keep an eye on your breath. Exhalation causes air to pass through the nose once again.
  • The air coming in feels chilly, while the air leaving feels warm.
  • Let your mental focus enter your nose for a fraction of a second! Sit in the nostril and observe your breath: ingoing, outgoing, ingoing, outgoing, ingoing, outgoing.
  • Allow your lungs to do their thing. You're just sitting there, watching.
  • After five minutes, pay attention to your breathing.
  • When the lungs inhale, the air travels through the nose, the back of the throat, the trachea, the lungs, the heart, and the diaphragm.
  • Deep down beneath the belly button, you will come to a complete stop.
  • The breath comes to a halt for a fraction of a second. Stay at that halt, then track the breath as it reverses direction as the lungs exhale.
  • Come up via the diaphragm, heart, lungs, trachea, and throat, back to the nose, and out of the body. Exhalation pushes air out of the body until it reaches about nine inches in front of the nose, when it comes to a second stop.
  • Stay at that stop for a while longer. The importance of these two stops cannot be overstated.
  • The first halt is behind the belly button, and the second is in space beyond the body. Because time is the movement of breath, time stops while your consciousness rests in these two pauses.
  • Because thought is the movement of breath, when the breath ceases, the mind also stops. You just exist without a body, a thought, or a breath when the mind falls quiet.
  • You will become an empty bowl in that pause, and when you become an empty bowl, holy lips will touch you. God will come to you and lavish his love on you.
  • You don't have to look for God because God is looking for you. God has been looking for an empty bowl to fill with his love since the beginning of time.
  • But there's desire, ambition, business, competitiveness, success, and failure in every bowl. Simply sit calmly and remain at the halt. That halt is a door. Simply open the door and leap into the abyss below.
  • You will be surrounded by an incredible sense of tranquility and quiet. Morning and evening practice this meditation for 15 minutes each.
  • You will finish your time in the pauses organically growing over the days, weeks, and months until, finally, inner and exterior will combine, and everything will happen within you.

NOTE: You may do this meditation in a prone posture if it is more comfortable for you.




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Mental Discipline is Key to Meditation

 


Meditation is a practice that unifies the body, mind, and awareness. Meditation makes life a blossoming delight of beauty. Life without meditation is a jumble of confusion and deception. Meditation was formerly thought to be a way of life in ancient times.

True, meditation is not distinct from daily life, yet we must practice techniques, methods, and systems as a discipline. Once we have learned a kind of meditation, we carry that discipline with us in all aspects of our lives. It, whatever approach you choose, whatever system you follow, please do so in accordance with your teacher's instructions.


But, exactly, what is meditation and what isn't? 

Meditation is not the same thing as focus. We restrict the mind when we concentrate, and a restricted mind is a narrow mind. To explore into any subject, solve difficulties, learn a language, or fly an aero plane, we need that constrained, focused, concentrated intellect. We require it. However, this is not the case with meditation.

We develop a wall of resistance when we concentrate, and we lose energy when we try to regulate our thoughts. Some individuals meditate in this manner for an hour and then feel exhausted, denying everything, saying no to all ideas and perceptions, and attempting to focus the mind. Meditation, on the other hand, is all-inclusive, whereas concentration is all-exclusive. Meditation is a state of open, non-choiceful consciousness. Everything is ok.

Meditation allows you to say yes to everything, whereas focus allows you to say no to everything. It is essential to concentrate. There is an effort creator everywhere there is effort. The ego is the one who creates the effort. 


Concentration feeds the ego, which is the creator of the effort. 

The more concentrated you are, the more ego you will have. There is no effort and no effort-maker in meditation. As a result, there is liberty. You're simply sitting calmly, listening to everything, whether it's a bird's song, a child's scream, or the rustle of leaves.

Every sound is appreciated. Allow any sound you hear to come to you. When you listen to the music, you become the focus, and the sound rushes toward you, wanting to meet with you. 

You become the center when you listen to any form of sound without judgement, criticism, loving or rejecting it. All sounds rush toward you, attempting to melt into you. 

Pay attention to the sound. Allow yourself to get swept away by it. Don't fight it. Then something extraordinary happens. 


You're left with nothing. You revert to a state of silence and pure existence. Allow a breeze to flow through you when it comes your way.

There will be no opposition if there is no effort. Keep in mind that silence is not the opposite of sound. Every sound fade into silence. Sound comes to meet you and melt into you because you are that serenity. Look at any item, such as a tree, a lawn, or even a wall.

There is no judgement, no choice in the gaze, only choiceless observation. Listening and gazing are both acts of awareness. There is no need for effort or attention. Concentration comes naturally when you're conscious when you're meditating. It has been presented to you as a present. However, you lack meditation when it comes to focus and decision-making.

Thinking ends, breathing quietens, and one just existing as pure awareness in extended, empty consciousness. There is a lot of happiness, beauty, and love in that condition. When individual awareness joins with Cosmic Consciousness, one transcends space and time. It makes no difference whether the eyes are open or closed in such state.

Because this state is your genuine nature—love, happiness, beauty, and awareness—it arrives as a breeze without invitation. Fear, despair, anxiety, worry, and stress are all absent. Anxiety, worry, and tension become visible to the observer.

Healing takes place in that condition. This is what discipline is all about. 


Discipline denotes learning, and a disciple is learning. 

As a result, we must master the skill of discipline. Discipline entails placing things in their proper places.

Thought has its proper place, desire has its proper place, job has its proper place, and duty has its proper position. Our lives become more harmonious when we practice discipline. As a result, discipline and meditation complement each other. There is no meditation without discipline, and there is no meditation without discipline. They are one and the same.


Meditation trains the mind to be disciplined.

A dominating mind is the so-called concentrated mind. A perplexed mind is in charge. A mind that is free, awake, and aware, on the other hand, is pleasant. That's a disciplined intellect you've got there. And life's scent is discipline. Life is never a celebration without that scent. Sit with your back straight as you meditate.

Sit in the Lotus stance if you're able (or Half Lotus if that is more comfortable for you). If it isn't comfortable, sit on a chair while maintaining your spinal column's upright position. You may expand the time you spend in the Lotus to one, two, or even three hours with consistent practice. Enlightenment will come quickly if one sits properly in a Lotus stance for three hours each day. The Lotus posture encourages the heart to expand. Breathing slows and ceases and thinking slows and ceases as well. Suffering is created by thinking, therefore going beyond thinking is going beyond suffering.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.




4 Steps to Help You Overcome Relationship Anxiety



There is no way to predict when or how someone may develop an anxiety disorder with certainty. Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms. Any of these measures are outlined in this book.


Simple Steps to Help You Overcome Relationship Anxiety:


1. Maintain your Composure

You must have developed the habit of critiquing everything you do. It's natural; we all have an inner critic who enjoys sowing doubt and filling our minds with nervous thoughts. If this happens, the first thing you can try to do is calm down so that things don't get out of hand. Meditation relaxes the nervous system and allows you to build a barrier between yourself and those destructive thought patterns. You'll discover that you don't have to respond to every thought that enters your head. So, take a few deep breaths and set aside some time for meditation.

2. Analyze what you Really Know

The next move is to pinpoint the specific negative circumstance that is causing you anxiety. This is because the majority of the things that cause us anxiety are founded on our own imaginations. So, if your relationship is causing you distress for some cause, look into it and figure out why, focusing only on evidence rather than opinions. This will assist you in thoroughly comprehending your current condition as opposed to any imagined loss.

3. Take Care Of Yourself

When you're worried about your relationships, it's important to focus on taking care of yourself first. Do just those things that will encourage your health and make you feel safe, rather than acting out against your partner or trying to get reassurance.

4. Heal from the Inside Out

You've already figured out that these are the only steps you need to take in order to maintain control of yourself, not your partner.

Heal yourself from the inside out; this is the only way to deal with these potentially negative emotions that arise from inside. It is possible to be concerned and conscious of oneself without feeling nervous.


Mindfulness-Based Meditation (MBM)


Mindfulness-Based Meditation is the most common form of meditation used to treat anxiety disorders. This form of meditation can be traced back to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Approach, who initiated the mindfulness movement. 

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Approach's main goal is to teach people how to fully stop worrying thoughts. This can be accomplished by practicing mindfulness, determining the source of fear in your body, understanding your thinking process, and learning how to better deal with painful emotions.

While practicing MBSR with a teacher is preferable, you can get the same results by taking online courses.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.

Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder - GAD


If you suffer from Generalized Anxiety, as discussed previously, consistent regular meditation will help you overcome anxiety and reduce increased stress in your body. 

Since yoga has a lot to do with meditation, if you've ever taken a yoga class, you've already taken a solid first step toward finding the peace you need.

Again, you won't need a lot of time to meditate at first. You could just need a few minutes. Make an attempt to set aside some time per day to meditate. You will gradually increase the time as you become more familiar with the process and learn how to relax
and discover what it feels like to be relaxed.

GAD is nothing more than unrelenting fear, worry that refuses to go anywhere. 

Meditation teaches you how to cope with your fears and emotions without allowing them to control you. Your anxiety is more likely to decrease after you've accomplished that.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.

4 Ways to Overcome Difficulties to Meditation



Meditations have a number of drawbacks resulting in hindered progress for the novice. It might be difficult for you to meditate or be conscious. 

You may find it difficult to focus without allowing the critic voice to talk, or you may feel too busy or anxious, as if there is just too much to do to sit around and breathe in and out.

Different people have different wiring. Some people find it difficult to just sit around and do nothing. They are used to being constantly on the move. 

Also, even though you attempt to relax, you can find that you are unable to prevent difficult thoughts from taking over.


The best advice for overcoming these challenges:


1. Keep the innate mechanism of meditation in mind.

You should be aware that this is going to take some time. This is not something you can learn in a day. You will experience odd feelings when you first begin meditating. Your mind will bother you, making you feel as though you are wasting your time by simply sitting around doing nothing. You'll become enraged and frustrated. Regardless of all of this, stick to it faithfully. It would undoubtedly improve. Expect the first meditation session to be difficult; it may not be. As amusing as it might sound, mastering the art of doing nothing takes time and practice. It will get easier in the end.

2. Make time for yourself!

Since you've realized that meditation can take time, it's best to set aside time for it. Schedule it in your calendar the same way you would a job or an appointment. Make it impossible for yourself not to train. There's no excuse why you can't miss practice for a day. Simply maintain your self-control.

3. Tell yourself that you must complete the Self-Love Task of Meditation! 

When you have a lot of things to do and achieve but still manage to fit in time for a quiet moment, you can almost always find that that calm moment helped you return to your day more conscious and faster at solving problems.

4. Keep A Journal of your progress and honestly state whether or not your anxiety is decreasing. 

After a short period of constant meditation, ask yourself questions like: Were you able to explore anxious thoughts without questioning or judging them?

  • Have you been able to get a moment of concentrated observation? 
  • Were you at ease, comfortable, and aware? 


If you're still experiencing disturbing thoughts and anxiety that is persistent and severe after a while, speak to your doctor about other treatment options.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.



6 Steps to Deconstruct Relationship Anxiety Using Mindfulness Meditation



Here are some simple meditation steps to get you free of anxiety right away:


1. Take a seat upright in a chair with your palms flat on the concrete.

2. Concentrate on the breathing. Keep an eye on your breathing. Do not attempt to change your breathing pattern; instead, simply watch and study your body as you breathe in and out.

3. You can become overwhelmed or need to concentrate on something else. Ignore and defiantly deny this urge, focusing instead on your breathing.

4. Anxious thoughts may enter your mind at this stage. It's to be planned.

Rather than shutting them down, remember them and then return calmly to control of your breathing.

5. Keep this calm, non-critical observation going for at least ten minutes.

6. Open your eyes slowly and notice how you feel. Don't try to understand what you're feeling; simply experience it.

Meditation is a simple method. All you have to do is embrace your surroundings and the world around you. Keep an open mind. Keep an eye on things. After a while, this meditative activity will spill over into other areas of your life as you focus on yourself and observe rather than dwelling on anxious or stressful circumstances and overreacting.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.



5 Types of Anxiety Disorders to Overcome

 


Being nervous is a common phenomenon, as previously mentioned. With the way the world works, it's almost difficult to avoid experiencing anxiety on a regular basis. We are predisposed to participate in behaviors that can trigger anxiety, such as taking tests, asking someone out on a date, and making important decisions, among other things.


Anxiety disorders can take many different forms. The word anxiety disorder is merely an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of disorders that fall within its scope:


1. Social Anxiety (Social Anxiety Disorder)

Everyday things can quickly spiral out of control for socially anxious people. This community of people is highly self-conscious, and they are afraid of being judged and scrutinized by others. This phobia is only associated with those situations:

Fear of appearing in public

Having meals in the presence of others

Others, in extreme situations, suffer from it even though they are just exposed to other individuals.

If you're experiencing these signs, you may be suffering from social anxiety.


2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder causes victims to experience unfounded anxiety as well as the lingering fear that something bad is going to happen. These emotions are often exaggerated and, in most cases, unbelievable.


3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

PTSD does not only affect troops and prisoners of war, contrary to common opinion. This anxiety disorder develops when a person is confronted with situations that may terrify or hurt him or her physically. Various incidents, natural or synthetic disasters, and abuse forced on them are all examples of stressful experiences that can quickly lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is characterised by three symptoms:

  • Flashbacks, nightmares, and detailed recollections of the events leading up to this stage.
  • Insomnia, combined with an inability to focus, exacerbated feelings of rage and frustration.
  • A strong desire to avoid locations, objects, or events that serve as daily reminders of the traumatic event.


4. Panic Disorder

People with panic disorders have terror knocking on their door on a regular basis. Sweating, severe palpitations (usually irregular), and chest pains are also common symptoms for those who are affected. Furthermore, none of these incidents come with an alert, and the threat of another assault only adds to the anxiety. In severe cases, patients can feel as though they are choking and show signs that they are having a heart attack.


5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

When the word OCD is used, many people associate it with hand washing and turning on and off lights. Many details about people who suffer from OCD, however, remain a mystery to many people. OCD is characterized by recurring repetitive behaviors and thinking patterns (obsessions). Obsessions include the following:

  • The fear of being contaminated by germs
  • Thoughts of hurt, religion, or sex are unwelcome.
  • Aggressive thoughts directed at oneself or others
  • All is arranged in perfect symmetry.

Organizing things in a certain manner, having an overwhelming need to clean the surroundings and wash hands, and counting and checking things regularly to ensure that they are in order are all examples of repetitive behavior.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.



Advantages of Starting a Meditation Practice

 


A solid framework for your meditation session is critical because, in many ways, when you lay the groundwork for your practice, your brain will begin to work toward making it a reality. 

If you plan to purchase a new meditation pad, for example, your mind will be reminded (or you will remember) that you did so, and you will want to experience the sensation of sitting on the mat and practicing.

  1. You can not be consistent unless you have a solid base.
  2. It won't be long until everything you're doing crumbles and falls because it's not supported by anything. That's just one way of expressing how important it is to start developing a sound meditation practice as soon as possible.
  3. It aids in the formation of a habit.
  4. However, despite the fact that meditation is beneficial to everyone, not everyone is currently doing it. Some people do not engage in any kind of meditation at all. What is the reason for this? Since it isn't a regular occurrence. Many of us lead very busy lives, and our plates can often seem to be too full to take on something else. There will always be a reason to put something off, which is why it is up to you to schedule time for it.
  5. The aim of creating a meditation practice is to make meditation a habit, a part of your everyday routine, and something you are able to do every day without hesitation or resistance because you are short on time.
  6. It makes the practice rooted in your life, almost second nature. Meditating can become as natural as brushing your teeth or showering, cooking a meal, or even driving to work on a regular basis. Those patterns are so deeply rooted in you that you perform them without exerting any effort or giving them much thought.


That's what starting a meditation practice will do for you right now, and it's what you'll need to do as a basis if you want to keep your practice consistent.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.





How to Start a Meditation Practice?



One of the most powerful ways to practice meditation on a regular basis is to devise and prepare a regimen that fits your needs, daily schedule, habits, and timing.

The thing about meditation is that you have to be aware of all that happens during your time there. There is an objective and an intent to mindful meditation. Its aim is to assist you in becoming more aware and conscious of what you do.

Here's how you should get started with your own meditation practice,


  1. Begin with a little. Start slowly by meditating for short periods of time, maybe 5-10 minutes a day if you're new to it. With no resistance, you can do something for 5-10 minutes a day, and the time will go by before you know it. When you see how easy it was, it motivates you to keep adding to it. By setting tiny, attainable goals, you will begin to develop the habit of incorporating meditation into your daily routine.
  2. Make use of resources to assist you. There's an app for almost anything these days, including meditation, so why not take advantage of the resources available to you to help you develop a good daily practice? There are several apps that can help you improve your meditation sessions, such as Headspace and Calm, with anything from timers to ambient sounds to help set the mood. Why not if it makes your everyday practice more enjoyable? If you like what you're doing, you're more likely to stick with it.
  3. Make use of YouTube. YouTube guided meditations can be a useful tool, particularly for those who are just starting out on this path. It aids in keeping you on track and on the right track. Some meditations are given on a regular basis, while others, such as Meditation for Focus and Meditation for Sleep, are given depending on your goals. Guided meditations make it much easier for beginners to get into the swing of things and to move in the right direction with their meditation sessions, particularly if they're done alone as a solo activity. It would be comforting to know that you are on the right track.
  4. Make space. This is a critical point. Making room in your home or some other location where you feel at ease is an important part of your practice.
  5. Make a plan for it. Okay, so not everyone enjoys routine and schedules, but if you're new to meditation, this is essential. Make a point of writing it down in your calendar or noting it down in your phone's calendar app. It's simple for other things to take priority over your meditation session during the day, which is why you should set aside time to sit and meditate before the day ends and you remember you didn't get to meditate at all.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.



13 Advantages and Benefits of Meditation

 


1. Meditation Assists in Stress Reduction

Our modern-day lifestyle is hectic, and it unintentionally contributes to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stress.

On some stage, tension and anxiety. These days, stress has become one of the most common issues that people face. You will believe that you can put it off or that you have accepted the fact that it will be a part of your life.

Stress, on the other hand, can cause a slew of health issues, including high blood pressure, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and insomnia, to name a few. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the body. The amount of cortisol secreted by your body is normally controlled by your body, but the more stress you have, the more cortisol is secreted. This can lead to problems such as panic attacks. Cortisol secretion must be regulated. Many of these problems, however, can be resolved with the aid of meditation. It will assist you in lowering your stress levels and dealing effectively with anxiety-inducing issues. Overall, you will experience a reduction in your stress and anxiety levels if you practice meditation.


2. Meditation Aids in the Regulation of Emotions

Humans are highly emotional beings. However, controlling our feelings can be difficult at times, and this can have dangerous consequences. This is particularly true in the world we live in today. The increased pressure and anxiety you're experiencing can lead to a cascade of negative emotions. Allowing emotions such as rage to build up can only hurt you. It's not just about you; it's also about those around you. And in the face of adversity, meditation will help you remain calm and composed. It is easier to rationalize your emotions if you can maintain your composure. Aside from that, it will assist you in making better decisions. You must not allow your emotions to influence you, and meditation will assist you in doing so.


3. Meditation boosts serotonin production.

You've already heard of serotonin, also known as the "good hormone." Hormones are generated by the human body and have a significant effect on how you think and feel.

These chemicals in your body have an impact on whether you are happy, sad, or angry.

Serotonin is a chemical that aids in the maintenance of happiness. Regular meditation has been shown to help increase serotonin secretion in studies. This substance has a beneficial effect on both your mind and body. Serotonin levels are found to be low in people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses.

As a result, meditation is one of the most common treatments for depression.


4. Meditation enhances one's ability to concentrate.

We all wish to be able to concentrate more effectively on our lives. However, the majority of people struggle with this. You may benefit from being able to concentrate in a variety of ways. If you're a student, it'll help you research more effectively. If you have clear life goals, you will be able to concentrate on them and work toward them. You may lose track of what you're doing and lead an undisciplined life if you lack attention. According to research, those who meditate have a greater ability to concentrate on their tasks and perform better than those who do not. Various meditation exercises will assist you in honing your ability to concentrate and improving your cognitive abilities.


5. Meditation Helps You Be More Creative

Meditation is also said to help you get your creative juices flowing. Your brain is able to work better and be more productive when you meditate and minimize your stress levels. High levels of stress have a negative effect on this creative capacity. Meditation will assist you in accepting both the positive and negative aspects of your life without jeopardizing your happiness or health.


6. Empathy and the ability to connect are enhanced by meditation.

If you want to improve your relationships, you must learn to empathize and communicate with others. Meditation will assist you in learning compassion and, as a result, acting compassionately with others. Meditation increases a person's capacity for compassion and understanding of others. You'll be able to see things from other people's viewpoints and respond to circumstances more effectively. Meditation can help you boost your social relationships by increasing your empathetic potential.


7. Meditation Aids in the Enhancement of Relationships

Do you think you could use some extra support in your relationships with your loved ones? This is something that meditation will help you with. Meditation improves empathy, which would be very beneficial to you. It helps you become more conscious of your surroundings so you can pick up on clues from them. This will aid you in comprehending how they feel in various circumstances. It will be easier for you to react and reply appropriately if you have a good understanding of the situation. Aside from that, it helps to eliminate the possibility of misunderstandings. If you've stabilized your feelings, you'll be less likely to allow negativity in.


8. Meditation Helps You Remember Things

Do you think you've lost your memory? There may be a variety of reasons for this, with stress being the most common. Regardless of the root cause,


If you practice meditation on a regular basis, it will help you develop your memory. You'll be able to concentrate on problems and become more aware of your surroundings and self. You would therefore be able to remember things for longer periods of time and therefore be less forgetful. Regardless of what you do or how old you are, meditation will help you improve your memory.


9. Meditation boosts the immune system.

Another advantage of meditation is that it is a natural way to strengthen the immune system. If you're sick a lot or just want to be better, meditation is a good place to start. Various meditation exercises, such as yoga, are believed to aid in immune system strengthening. You will find a positive difference in your overall immunity if you meditate on a regular basis.


10. Meditation will assist you in overcoming addictions.

Addictions are a debilitating illness that can be very difficult to overcome. To overcome every form of addiction, you'll need a lot of self-control and discipline.

This could be anything from smoking to alcoholism to some other unhealthy behavior that is detrimental to your health and well-being. Your physical health is affected by more than just your addictions. Other addictions include binge eating, heavy social media use, and excessive pornography viewing. These have a negative impact on the body and mind. Certain meditation techniques, such as Vipassana meditation, are often used to assist addicts in overcoming strong addictions. Although meditating alone will not solve all of your problems, it is an excellent method for assisting you in moving forward and overcoming your addictions. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, beginning with meditation is a good place to start.


11. Meditation Has Cardiovascular Health Benefits

Meditation is beneficial to the heart, which is common knowledge. Is there any explanation why daily meditation, which helps you relax and reduces your propensity to be nervous, shouldn't also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension?

For a long time, many people believed this to be the case, but a few scientists were curious enough to investigate and record the physical effects of meditation on the heart. Herbert Benson of Harvard University was the first to investigate this connection. His influential book The Relaxation Response, published in the mid-1970s, sparked a lot of debate among intellectuals. He demonstrated that improvements in the body occurred through medical research.

Other colleagues were initially suspicious of his findings. Nobody had ever seriously considered that this meditative training might have medical benefits. His research, in any event, stood up to a rigorous investigation by others. Over the last two decades, mainstream researchers have developed a sincere interest in the topic. The study began when the American Heart Association Journal published an article about the potential of meditation to reduce risk factors associated with all forms of cardiovascular disease.

Strong articles on the medical benefits of meditation were recently published in the American Journal of Hypertension. In this study, it was discovered that a group of people who meditated successfully reduced their blood pressure as compared to a group of people who did not meditate. The reduction in blood pressure was so noticeable that the meditators were able to minimize their use of antihypertensive drugs by around 25%. Stress has a connection to something other than coronary artery disease.

Many physiological functions can be disrupted by stress. At the end of the day, constant worry presents itself in the form of a variety of medical problems. Gastrointestinal dysfunctions are one of the structures you might have found this in. It's not just in your head; changes in physiology and hormones occur in your body as a result of stress, according to comprehensive research. As a reaction to a distressing situation - either acute or chronic - these cause a variety of stomach problems.

Stress can also cause sleep disturbances in some people. Irritable bowel syndrome has been attributed to sleep problems in some of these cases. Fortunately, regular meditation practice can help to mitigate and ease these physical changes.


12. Aids to Meditation Loss of weight

When you're dealing with weight problems, it's difficult to be your brightest. Unfortunately, many overweight people do not have a positive self-image or a sense of self-worth. They can assume that their perfect life is out of reach if they don't have it. Meditation has the potential to be extremely beneficial in this situation in two ways. To begin with, it is common to begin eating when you are stressed.

If you're like me, you'll notice that the first thing you reach for is usually something salty, sweet, or greasy. It's not your lack of self-control that's to blame; instead, it's the hormonal changes brought on by too much tension. When your body is in pain, it craves this type of unhealthy food.

Meditation has been shown in several studies to significantly reduce the physical effects of stress on the body. It begins by lowering cortisol levels in the body, which can help with those persistent hunger pangs. Perhaps meditating does not provide the same level of comfort as a bag of chips, candy, or fries (or even all three). In either case, it will aid in the reduction of cravings. This is a step in the process that allows people to develop a more positive mental self-image, which then allows them to focus on living the life they want. Stress is a slippery beast. It pervades every fiber of your being. However, it is possible that the most significant imminent effects would be on the person's immunity. Think about it. How many times have you caught a cold or even the flu as a result of an uncomfortable experience?

Meditation can also assist you in this area. People who are stressed have lower levels of basic white blood cells, which are essential for fighting foreign attacking microscopic organisms and infections that cause colds, influenza, and other illnesses. Meditation is now widely recognized as a valuable tool for effectively managing tension in one's life.


13. Meditation Aids in the Treatment of Headaches

One of the most common signs that the body is under too much stress is a headache. Furthermore, it is difficult to focus on what is important to you when you have a headache that consumes the bulk of your thoughts. It's difficult to think, and it's even more difficult to use good judgement. It's also difficult to enjoy yourself. It probably comes as no surprise that meditation is an excellent way to loosen up certain muscles and relieve pain.

Its positive results are also clinically proven, in addition to the fact that it works for the vast majority of people. Moving into yourself as meditation helps you to make adjustments in your brain waves to a higher state, even if only for a short time. This is a level of consciousness that has been shown to aid in the healing process. The takeaway here is that you can change your brain waves by meditating. Researchers used to believe that a person's brain waves is unchangeable. They believed that, despite our ability to move between various dimensions of cognizance, we are born with unique patterns that cannot be changed.

Today, however, it's widely accepted that the brain waves can be altered, and meditation is one method for doing so. People who have been meditating for more than fifteen years were studied in the most recent research. Long-term meditation alters brain activity, allowing those who meditate to reach a higher level of mindfulness than those who do not. In any case, there's nothing stopping you from getting rid of the migraine right now with a ten- or fifteen-minute meditation session, so why not give it a shot?

As you can see, those who meditate on a daily basis reap many benefits. There are several more ways to benefit from it than the ones mentioned above. If you really want to reap the benefits of meditation, you must first begin.



You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.




9 Fundamentals of Meditation



Meditation is what causes personal transformation and helps us to solve our own problems. When meditation is performed with the intention of focusing on one's beliefs and values,


It loses its authenticity as it focuses on myths rather than evidence. Looking at the everyday events of life leaves us in a state where we see many issues with a great deal of individual pain, making many things in life seem difficult and unattainable. Meditation is the only thing that makes one see the world differently and concentrate on improving it in the face of such unimaginable and debilitating pain. Even if our spirituality is in order, it is important to have the practical and objective facts in order, with an emphasis on overcoming suffering.


The following basic steps are required to Meditate:


  1. Frequency of Meditation: When you begin to learn the art of meditation, it is important that you sit for at least five minutes every day, even if it is just for five minutes; those five minutes will make a significant difference. The regularity in which one performs the skill of meditation is important to remember because it aids your memory in becoming mindful of what is going on with you and your surroundings at any given time. Every day meditation can be performed in a variety of ways, such as engaging in various activities for varying lengths of time and learning a new ability, as long as there is always something to do. Things happen on every given day; differently, our day kickers alter, and this may cause our emotions to shift, throwing us off course; therefore, the meditation practice is critical because it can be of great assistance in helping us re-establish ourselves.
  2. The seat can be anything from a chair to a couch, a bed, a park bench, or just a nice-looking ground surface. The problem is finding a place that is relaxed, stable, and strong so that you do not feel exhausted and fatigued at the end of the session. Note, our goal is to relax.
  3. While you're meditating, you should also pay attention to your lower body position. If you're sitting on a cushion, you should cross your legs in front of you comfortably, making sure your knees are at or below your hips. If you're sitting in a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your foot is completely extended.
  4. Without stiffening the spine, the torso, or upper part of the body, should be straight. Allow the spine to curve naturally to give the impression of being upright and relaxed.
  5. The upper arms are parallel to the torso, and we let our hands drop and rest naturally; the thought of having equal sides keeps you from hunching over or being rigid.
  6. When we focus on the head and eyes during meditation, we lower the chin and encourage a lower gaze, which produces a humbling effect. After that, one can close their eyes and relax because closing the eyes allows one to change their attention.
  7. Now it's time to focus on the mind-body connection as well as the breath. Be at ease by paying attention to how you breathe out and in.
  8. Find yourself the most dignified rider and take a journey through life on a horse. You should make this a normal habit that will help you become more self-aware.
  9. Stay on track without allowing your mind to wander, and if it does, return your attention to your breathing.

We can't force ourselves to be different, any more than we can force a flower to grow. 

However, it is critical that we create some new conditions that can assist us in changing our experiences in a gentle, skillful, and incremental manner. It is thought that our problems stem from our mental states, and that we can combat these issues by using our minds. When the mind is stuck in a state of depression, frustration, or pain, it is dangerous. 


Our emotions also allow our minds to perceive and see events through the lens of how they are unfolding. 

As a result, having a professional meditator lead you through the guidance and instruction on how to meditate in a way that consciously shapes our minds is critical. As a result, real meditation can be described as a mode of perception that enables our consciousness to remain awake and free of conditioning. We all experience or sense through our eyes, nose, ears, skin, and tongue, but meditation is based on a particular spectrum of sense and power that is present in everyone.


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8 Myths About Meditation. What Meditation Isn't!



Meditation is increasingly becoming a common activity, but many people have different perspectives on it. Individual perception is a personal preference, and many people would hold opposing viewpoints if they lacked experience and understanding. It's true.

It's normal for people to become acquainted with the rituals and values that they previously mistook for meditation. One example is when people claim that meditation is a method of quieting the mind; however, this is not the case.

Several books have been published on the topic of meditation. Even so, they can create confusion since they were written from the perspectives of people who adhere to the principles and beliefs of particular religions or ideologies. Some have made comments and values about meditation that sound like universal rules, but meditation is, in general, an extremely precise technique that is unique to a particular method of practice.


What Isn't Meditation?


There are a few popular myths about meditation, including:


Myth 1. Meditation is merely a type of relaxation – It's important to note that meditation is not the same as relaxation. A good example is when we sleep. Sleeping and relaxing are not synonymous, but the crucial link is that when we sleep, we relax. The same concept applies to meditation; one of the results of meditation is relaxation, which occurs when one sits straight for a period of time and relaxes. However, this does not eliminate the mind's duality aspect. It is important to recognize that one of the many advantages of meditation is the ability to relax. It calms you down, relaxes you, and gives you a sense of serenity.


Myth 2.  Meditation is for those who are looking for answers to their spiritual questions – Contrary to popular belief, anybody who wants to reap the many benefits of meditation can do so. One of the main goals is to induce a comfortable state that allows one to become conscious of who they are without exerting too much effort. It is an important tool for everyone because everyone wants to learn more about themselves without having to rely on anyone else to tell them, and meditation is the only way to do so.


Myth 3.  Meditation is not the same as meditation or reflection – when one concentrates or focuses on something, they are simply narrowing their awareness. After excluding anything else, one can only concentrate on one particular object. Meditation is all-encompassing because it expands the consciousness. When one meditates, they become conscious of something but not of something concrete. Meditation is merely one of the different types of focus. When in meditation, concentration requires one to focus their attention on a particular task or activity. There is no concept of directing your attention to a specific job or company. Meditation gives you the freedom to be present in the moment without having to focus on something in particular.

Concentration is a skill that can aid in the learning of meditation, especially in the early stages, but it is not the same as meditation.


Myth 4. Meditation is not a religious activity – Popular belief holds that meditation consists of sitting in a certain pose, chanting some specific, persuasive words with a phonetic meaning, and burning essence. Meditation is not the practice of doing a specific activity in a specific pose for a set amount of time. It is true that learning to meditate takes time and requires sincere effort and commitment, but this does not make it a religion or a ritual. Meditation is simply the quality of one's being that happens when one becomes conscious of one's true self and can take any action with awareness. Meditation may be practiced by anyone, regardless of faith, race, age, sex, creed, or nationality. Meditation is more enjoyable to do once you understand it because it does not require any straining.


Myth 5.  We conclude that meditation is not a state of mind, but rather a state of no-mind. We cannot assume that meditation is just about what one thinks; rather, meditation is about finding a calm place that exists inside you all the time. According to scientists, there are four essential states of mind based on the strength of mind waves. Alpha, beta, gamma, and theta are the four states of consciousness. When we say we're in the beta zone, we're simply referring to the state in which we work and carry out our daily activities. The alpha state is only below beta, which is the meditative state. Further depth states of mind are gamma and theta. It allows one to become still, tranquil, and relaxed without any stress or tension; in other words, it allows one to become happy. Alpha is the state of mind that occurs during meditation, not the meditation itself. There is no machine or mechanical device that can be used to generate awareness; instead, gadgets can only be used to make us understand what is true by creating the right conditions.


Myth 6. Meditation isn't the same as self-hypnosis – Since there is a need for an object of focus in both self-hypnosis and meditation, it is needed in both cases. When meditating, however, the person doing the meditating must retain an understanding of the present moment while still being very conscious and not losing track of time. When people think of hypnosis, they normally think of a subconscious state. Hypnosis aims to transform the subject into an emotionless vegetable who is more vulnerable to being manipulated by a third party. Meditation, on the other hand, causes one to become more aware of their emotional changes. One gains a clearer and more precise understanding of oneself.


Myth 7. Meditation is not a mysterious practice; it is an art that deals with various aspects of consciousness that are deeper than abstract thinking. The only curious thing is that while there might not be specific terms to describe meditation, the same can be said for many other things. For example, we all know how to walk, but few, if any, of us have a clear definition of the order in which nerve fibers and muscles contract during the entire process of our day-to-day activities like walking. The same can be said for meditation; we may not be able to describe it in depth, however we can practice it. One cannot foresee the outcome of meditation because it is merely an examination or experiment, as well as an experience to look forward to.


Myth 8. The goal of meditation is to become a psychic – Many people believe that the end goal of meditation is to become a psychic superman. The specifics, such as reading minds and levitation, are not the ultimate goals in meditation; rather, self-liberation is the ultimate goal.


You may also like to read more about Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mindfulness Mediation and Healing here.



What does Meditation Mean?

In the West, the word "meditation" has a long and complicated history, and it has no exact counterpart in Asian cultures. However, interactions with Asian, especially Indian, spiritual traditions have had a significant impact on modern use of the language. As a result, our present perception of the definition represents a combination of Western and Asian interests. The word "meditation," mostly in its Latin form meditatio, has long been associated with Christianity in the West, but it has often been associated with philosophy and the arts. In this multifaceted tradition, the word usually refers to an associative and nonlinear form of reflection that goes beyond strictly logical reasoning but still “engages the analytical or discursive faculties,” as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it. Meditation is a form of meditation, prayer, or creative visualization that is often based on scripture. When Western writers started to read Indian and other Asian classics, the word "meditation" came to be used in a broader context, referring to Buddhist and Yogic rituals that are "aimed at the eradication of rational or earthly mental thought," according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The technological direction of the empirical investigation of these activities has bolstered certain non-discursive interpretations of the word.

Almost all empirical meditation research explores technical, rather than content-oriented, Asian activities, as Are Holen points out in this volume, and these have often dominated the general public's interest in meditation over the last half-century. As a consequence, the word "meditation" is now most often used to describe activities that do not primarily include "the intellectual or discursive faculties." The Asian rituals examined in this book include a wide range of beliefs, including discursive and non-discursive practices, content-oriented and narrowly technological practices. The current essay seeks to describe the word "meditation" in a way that raises interesting concerns about the essence of meditation as a starting point for these discussions. Meditation is an attention-based method for inner change, according to the proposed meaning. This description is expansive and inclusive, but it is also very progressive in certain ways. In the one side, it encompasses a variety of rituals that are frequently referred to by other names, such as ceremony, meditation, and reflection. However, it specifically prohibits a variety of activities that are often referred to as meditation, such as pure calming methods.

 

Furthermore, the proposed term is limited to technical practices and excludes randomly produced mental states. It also excludes literary or metaphysical works that are often referred to as "meditations" on a particular subject. The different aspects of the concept of "meditation," as well as the boundaries between meditation and other phenomena, will be discussed in depth in this article. Furthermore, by connecting these elements to the tradition of meditation on the Eurasian plateau, as well as material from other essays in this book, this essay would seek to demonstrate the definition's cultural significance. 

However, certain fundamental definitional issues must be discussed before proceeding with this discussion. Definitions that are generic Some cultural historians object to the use of abstract, unitary meanings, such as the one that defines meditation as "an attention-based strategy for inner change," since they are intentionally disrespectful to cultural and historical features in some ways. In comparison to the historical, cultural, and social “situatedness” reflected here, such a description of meditation can easily be accused of being anachronistic and Eurocentric in application of modern-day Western ideas on a largely premodern Asian material. This is easily mistaken for what cultural theorists derisively refer to as "essentialism," a way of thought that ascribes a stable and frequently abstract "essence" to social, cultural, or otherwise human phenomena. As a result, generic meanings are often used as instruments by natural scientists, who appear to ignore cultural and historical differences and regard individual vocabulary usage and local semantic schemes as having no bearing on their study.

Indeed, scientists engaged in scientific science or psychology proposed the majority of earlier standardized concepts of meditation. Furthermore, while generic meanings resist making overt references to cultural and historical aspects, they are far from benign in the sense that they are unaffected by their surroundings. The above-mentioned concept of meditation is related to scientific concerns, which are often rooted in culture and tradition. Some may argue that the definition's reference to "technique" reflects a strong Asian influence, whereas European and Middle Eastern forms of meditation are often less technical and more devotional than many Indian and Chinese forms, while others may argue that the reference to "technique" is a result of modern scientific and technological concerns and therefore in reality linked to "technique." Both ideas can include some facts.

The idea that a definition's semantic ramifications are bound to embody certain cultural and historical considerations clearly means that these concerns should be explained and made the subject of critical reflection, which is exactly what this essay aims to do. Our meaning refers to certain characteristics of a "stuff" called "meditation" that can, for the time being, be considered useful and fascinating to investigate and debate. In any case, it's unclear what will be an alternative to a standardized description. We should not "rest satisfied with reproducing native lexicography and, thus, giving in to the prevailing culture of localism, calling any attempt at generalization a western imposition," as religion historian Jonathan Z. Smith puts it. The formal stipulative and precising processes by which the academy challenges and attempts to regulate second-order, specialist use cannot be substituted for how ‘they' use a word.”

It would be difficult to see what a comparative analysis of meditation would compare if it was exclusively focused on local ideas rather than a philosophy of meditation that transcends all languages and cultures. The problem does not seem to be solved by Smith's own proposal of a "self-consciously polythetic mode of classification that surrenders the concept of ideal, special, single differentia." “No examples of attempts at the polythetic classification of religions or religious phenomena,” Smith says, and a critic of Smith's work observes that “the reader who wants an exhaustive list of the features of a polythetic concept of faith is in for a disappointment; Smith does not provide it.”

Though subsequent scholars have made a few attempts in this direction, the task has largely proved to be too difficult. Polythetic definitions have proven useful in biology, where they have aided in the resolution of issues left by conventional monothetic species definitions. Also polythetic meanings, in such situations, have a monothetic heart, since they presuppose a single ancestral history of species listed together. Meditation, as a social and personal phenomenon, has no such monothetic core—no stable "essence," if you will.

 

Furthermore, whereas biological organisms are typically defined by features that have “a actual, distinct, and independent character,” meanings of social and personal phenomena “cannot be carried out by comparison to discrete empirical particulars, but require instead a dependence on further features of the same character that are equally polythetic,” as Rodney Needham puts it. Since “comparative research, whether morphological, practical, or mathematical, are made more difficult and perhaps even unfeasible,” the enormous difficulty of polythetic classification of social and personal phenomena can ultimately make it impracticable.

There's no need to believe that social and personal manifestations like meditation, which lack the monothetic essence found in biological organisms, are naturally separated into groups. More than likely, they are not natural taxa, and any grouping, beyond the conceptualizations imposed on them by various languages in various ways, would include artificial elements. The aim of describing meditation is to provide a single point of reference to which comparative studies of meditation may relate, rather than to imply a natural class of meditative phenomena.

A monothetic definition fits this purpose better than a polythetic definition since it is more concise and less ambiguous, which is why some scholars have considered it "fair to question if a definition of a polythetic term is at all a definition, because it is obviously imprecise." Despite accusations to the contrary, a precise generalized meaning can easily be paired with a keen understanding of the historical and cultural situatedness of natural language meanings, as well as the social and personal realities to which those definitions relate, as well as the ambiguities, family resemblances, overlaps, and gradient distinctions that underpin both language and fact.

Natural language terms like “meditation” in English—or, for that matter, the Arabic dhikr, Sanskrit dhyana, and Chinese jng-zu—are multivalent, mutable, and fuzzy, much like the social and personal phenomenon to which they refer. Ses ideas and phenomena, on the other hand, can all be usefully linked to a single meaning of meditation, even though they differ in different ways. If meditation is characterized as a practice, the states of mind protected by the English term “meditation” and the Sanskrit dhyana, as well as the metaphysical and creative items referred to by the English term, fall beyond the meaning. However, the recitation implied by Arabic dhikr, the imagery implied by some Tantric applications of Sanskrit dhyana, and the seated pose implied by Chinese jng-zu limit these terms to a much narrower variety of activities than our common understanding of meditation. A monothetic meaning provides one with a shared emphasis in a comparative analysis of meditation, against which the peculiarities of each practice can be illuminated. Just like thinking about dhikr as meditation helps one understand the practice better, examining meditation in the light of presumptions coming from dhikr highlights meditation's connection to modern forms of human subjectivity that are ingrained in the way we think and act but are not often easily thinking of their similarities and differences is a great way to learn more about all of them.

Bashir uses the phrase "with its most commonsensical English sense," but his argument is equally true if we think of meditation as a technical concept with a single definition. A rudimentary version of a generalized meaning would be purely stipulative, with no broader analytical ambitions than to have a common ground for the comparative treatment of similar phenomena through cultures and languages A theoretical definition is a more powerful variant of a generalized definition, as it not only has functional ramifications but also aims to link the given notion to broader theoretical problems. As we've seen, describing meditation as a method rather than a state or a nontechnical mode of activity suggests a certain theoretical understanding of meditation, as does the idea of meditation being attention-based, excluding automatized ritualistic practice, and performed in order to achieve long-term inner transformation rather than only passing changes of state or changes that only impact the body.

Because of these metaphysical consequences, a consideration of the concept becomes much more than a mere terminological problem, since it touches on the essence of the phenomenon to which the word in question refers. Methodology Both ways of meditation, according to our meaning, are “techniques.” Unlike many of the ordinary social interactions usually observed by sociologists and anthropologists, a method is a deliberate procedure that is not taken for granted. A technique is formal in the sense that its methods are well-defined; however, this does not rule out the possibility of accidental or even imaginative components, such as when unexpected thoughts are the focus of meditation. It is continuous, as in the sequence of postures and movements involved in Hatha Yoga or Tàij, the nonrepetitive chanting of the whole Lotus Stra in Buddhism or the Book of Psalms, not sequential, as in the sequence of postures and movements involved in Hatha Yoga or Tàij, the nonrepetitive chanting of the entire Lotus Stra in Buddhism or the Book of Psalms.

A technique is separated from other practices in terms of time, stance, and place, as well as by particular routines. And it's being done to produce such outcomes, which we'll get to later, at least in part by using fundamental processes that are implicit in the essence of the human body and mind. The technical elements of meditation are seen with ambivalence in many meditative practices. For example, content-oriented meditative prayer and imagery are common, devotional rituals emphasize an intimate relationship with God, and apophatic practices traditionally emphasize “unmediated” interaction with the divine or “direct” realization of ultimate reality. In both situations, this will lead to a pessimistic outlook about meditation's technicality. This does not mean that content-oriented, devotional, or apophatic rituals are not included in our definition; however, we put a greater focus on their technical elements, as opposed to the traditions' emphases. The ambivalence about the technicality of meditation is often expressed directly in paradoxical comments, such as Meister Eckhart's notion of a "pathless direction" in the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, or the Zen Buddhist notion of a "gateless gate."

At other moments, a deep cynicism about meditative methods is juxtaposed with exhortations to meditate, such as when the “Platform Stra” portrays Hunéng, a seventh- to eighth-century Chinese Zen master, as saying that he “has no techniques,” w jling, but in the same work exhorting his disciples to continue practicing “straight sitting,” dun-zu, i.e., meditation, after he has passed The paradox is simply explained in “The Epistle of Prayer” in the Christian context: “It is not necessary for a man to achieve greatness in this work unless these two ways, or two others like them, come first.” The perfection of this piece, though, is its suddenness, which comes without means.” Jiddu Krishnamurti is best known in modern times for his resistance to meditation practices, claiming that "the reality is a pathless forest," but others have interpreted his stance as a method of formal meditative awareness training. A recent series of essays on the Zen tradition of shi-kan ta-za, or "only stay," alternates between insisting on the technique's lack of method and explaining distinctly technical elements including exposure to the lower belly, precise breathing techniques, and a heavy emphasis on proper bodily posture. 

Sheng Yen, a Buddhist master from Taiwan, calls one of his meditation methods "the method of no method." The deep goal-orientation implicit in the concept of a technique is one explanation for this doubt or ambivalence. Techniques are used to achieve specific effects, but actively pursuing effects can, paradoxically, make achieving them more challenging. The achievement of a target may divert the mind's attention away from the actual practice, and it may include a mental concentration so intense that it fails to notice facts that are more transient and ephemeral.

A technological mindset can also inspire passivity, as though the transformative effects of meditation would happen on their own, almost mechanically or magically, rather than requiring a deep sense of agency and personal involvement. It may also obstruct the personal dedication expected in some meditative rituals, such as the Sikh practices discussed in this volume by Kristina Myrvold. In the Christian tradition, relying on tactics is often seen as impeding God's grace, as in the following quote from Jacques Philippe's Time for God about meditative prayer: “St. Jane Frances de Chantal once said, ‘The safest way of prayer is not to have one, because prayer is received not by artifice,' as we might think now, but by grace.' There is no such thing as a ‘method' of prayer, as in a series of directions or protocols that we must simply follow in order to pray effectively.” In general, meditation's technological orientation can be compared with prayer's content-oriented orientation. Although both meditation and prayer seek to achieve such results, prayer usually does so explicitly through its text, while meditation usually does so indirectly, in a nonlinear manner, through technological elements that draw on universal mechanisms.

For instance, prayer may aim at obtaining the forgiveness of sins by asking for it, or may try to achieve intimate contact with God through the expression of devotion, while meditation may seek to obtain its transformative effects at least partly by means of cross-cultural elements that go beyond such content, for example, by directing one’s attention to the breath, by repeating certain sound combinations, by gazing at or visualizing geometrical figures, and so on. Such mechanisms typically lie beyond the individual’s direct control, and the main effects of meditation result from the methodical practice of a technique rather than any purposeful striving.

Though the result of prayer can often be out of one's reach, it is usually thought of as relying on God's grace rather than any processes found in the human mind or body. Also technological elements are given content-oriented meanings in many cultures, such as when the breath is interpreted as an indicator of existence's transience in Buddhist contexts, as a connection to celestial energies in Daoist and Yogic contexts, or as the breath of life in Christian contexts. And from the viewpoint of an observer will the universal processes involved in certain elements be seen, regardless of the cultural context in which they are used. Since this makes it easier to quantify, scientific concepts of meditation prefer to focus on its theoretical dimensions. Meditation makes “use of a particular procedure, precisely defined,” according to one often cited term. Instead of or in addition to "technique," other meanings include terminology like "psychoactive workout," "social conditioning," and "self-regulation/emotional and attentional regulatory practice." Meditation's technical orientation is often compared with other practices' material orientation by stating that meditation stresses "method rather than content," whereas non-meditative practices like self-hypnosis, imagination, and psychotherapy "primarily aim at transforming mental contents such as feelings, images, and emotions."

However, in our definition, substantive material is not removed from the concept of meditation as long as technical elements are present. The activity orientation involved in describing meditation as a technique includes a vital component of individual organization. Meditation is something that the professional does, not something that is administered to him or her. Our meaning excludes so-called accidental or natural meditations, which occur as unintentional reactions to a scene or circumstance, such as the Buddha's well-known childhood experience of meditative bliss: “I remember once, when my father the Sakyan was working and I was seated in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, I entered & stayed in the first jhana =Skt. dhyana; generally translated as “meditation”: rapture & relaxation born of seclusion, followed by guided reflection & evaluation.”

Most traditions, however, recognize that meditative activity often takes place in a setting, and that elements of the context can be as significant as the mediation technique itself in causing transformative transformation, as Sarah Shaw argues in this volume for the Buddhist example. Person or communal meditation can be practiced, and even communal meditation can require a lot of individual agency, as shown by the fact that monks who have been practicing meditation together for years don't really know what each other is doing.

The degree of reliance on an instructor or master can also differ, ranging from no reliance beyond initial guidance to so-called supervised meditations, in which all stages of the practice depend on continuous directions from a teacher or a tape recorder, as in some of the Sikh practices mentioned in this volume by Myrvold. The master's position in Morten Schlütter's kan activities is an in-between scenario, in which the meditator is repeatedly given new kans to ponder in addition to the original technical guidance. Pay close attention. Meditation is founded on the utilization of focus, according to the proposed meaning. In one way, this is stating the obvious: all ways of meditation include focusing one's mind on a single meditation object. The object may be a static object, like a geometrical figure in yantra meditation, or a dynamic aspect, like the ever-changing truth sought to be included in shi-kan ta-za and other Zen practices.

In any case, the approach entails drawing the viewer's focus to this thing. Meditation entails cultivating the mode of attention in addition to the focus of attention. Although many meditative practices have detailed discussions of what constitutes an effective meditation object, others argue that any external or internal object may serve this purpose, with the key distinction being the mode of focus, mental orientation, and how attention is focused toward this object. In certain instances, this entails the development of a single-minded, deeply absorbed, and effortless mental state. In other ways, the teaching aims to develop an open and accommodating mental approach toward sudden desires and even distracting feelings. In order to overcome worldly connection and let the mind reside in a realm that goes beyond all matters, meditative attitudes are often seen as stimulating an aspect of alienation or separation from the artefacts of the universe. Meditation is thought to promote a way of life that brings in a deeper intimacy with the stuff of the world at all moments, or perhaps even concurrently.

In any situation, the mode of focus is crucial, and every effort to meditate mechanically, on autopilot, would be outside of our meaning. Meditation is a technique for increasing one's consciousness. Meditation methods, according to a number of theoretical definitions, include the preparation of consciousness, or perception. Some of them also go so far as to exclude visualization exercises from the area of meditation, claiming that they seek to change the contents of attention rather than train the attention itself. They also exempt “controlled breathing and body postures, yoga, or body movement and assumed energy modulation, Tai Chi Tài-j and Chi gong Q-gng” based on the same rationale. In reality, most types of recitative practice, which often includes the deliberate modification of mental material, will be excluded from this line of thought. The effect will be a very limited definition of meditation, excluding, for example, the visualization methods discussed in this volume by Madhu Khanna, Geoffrey Samuel, and Sarah Shaw, as well as most aspects of orthodox Christian meditation.

The irony is that concentration preparation does not preclude efforts to change or alter the contents of the mind. Most visualization exercises, as well as many body practices and recitative techniques, combine the two. In the next post, we'll return to a review of the uses of attention, which classifies meditation methods in part based on the "center of attention" and "form of attention." Transformation of the Soul Meditation is performed with the aim of completing "mental change," according to the proposed meaning. Traditional views of the modifications are theological or metaphysical, but nothing in our meaning precludes psychological, philosophical, or other existential interpretations. Descriptions of transformative reform are usually diverse and ambiguous in literary records from various schools and traditions. There are only a few dispersed comparative analyses of long-term trajectories of meditative systems in the scientific literature, and they are narrow in depth.

One scholarly concept of meditation mentions "social growth," but says nothing on what it entails beyond general comments about promoting positive feelings and suppressing negative emotions. “Inner transition results of long-term fundamental changes involving many facets of the individual, such as perceptual, physical, intellectual, moral, or behavioral behaviors, gradually bringing about the anchoring of the individual in more fundamental aspects of existence,” I propose as a preliminary concept. This description can be seen in a number of ways. Such transition is commonly associated with getting closer to God in monotheistic religions originating in the Middle East, and the same may be true of the Sikh tradition of nm simran mentioned by Myrvold in this volume. The aim of many Hindu schools, including Edwin F. Bryant's Yogic disciplines and Khanna's yantra and cakra practices, is to understand the supreme Self, purua or tman, which is also sometimes equated with God, vara or Brahman, or iva in union with akti.

Though some have pointed to similarities between the ultimate Self that Buddhism is supposed to deny and the "Buddha nature," Ch. fó-xng, prevalent in the meditative traditions of Tibet, as discussed by Samuel in this volume, and of East Asia, as discussed by Samuel in this volume, the aim in the various Buddhist approaches is either to become enlightened to the fundamental emptiness of the self or of all being, though some have pointed to similarities between the ultimate Self that Buddhism is supposed to deny. The aim of Daoism, as defined by Harold D. Roth, and Neo-Confucianism, as described by Masaya Mabuchi, is to enhance one's proximity to the Way, Dào, which has clear moralistic undertones in Neo-Confucianism. While some of them mean a greater mystical realm to which the meditator eventually opens his or her eyes, modern schools of meditation frequently reject the metaphysical connotations of conventional terminologies. Others, as shown by Holen's contribution, have a more scientific approach to the processes at hand. In both cases, the aim is for the individual to become more permanently rooted in facets of life that are deemed more central in the particular cultural sense than his or her starting point.

This perspective on inner change does not imply belief in the perennialist notion that all schools of meditation, theology, mysticism, and so on are, at their heart, efforts to achieve the same universal truth, as Robert K. C. Forman famously claimed in the contemporary sense. In certain cases, structural and linguistic parallels between different meditative traditions can represent actual substance similarities, whether that substance is linked to the notion of an ineffable experience of a non-phenomenal reality, as is usually argued within the perennialist discourse, or to effable and phenomenal experiences, as Matthew T. Kapstein suggests for the widespread of meditative traditions. In other contexts, as with comparisons between descriptions of meditative and drug-induced spiritual encounters, formal and informative parallels between various practices can be superficial and gloss over underlying distinctions. Along with some fundamental variations, the structure of their discourses binds the different schools of meditation together. “Models of incremental self-transformation, often based upon the active cultivation through years of ascesis or meditative practice, and those of abrupt or sometimes aggressive alteration in the structure of the self—for example, in religious conversion,” write David Shulman and Guy G. Stroumsa.

The transitions caused by meditative practice seem to be firmly placed in the first division when stated this way. However, though meditation is often viewed as a lifelong endeavor, meditative transition is often viewed as a rapid and, paradoxically, unplanned occurrence. This is particularly true of the prevalent schools of Zen Buddhism, which Schlütter describes in this book. Perhaps even more interestingly, that is also true in certain Christian ways of reflection, as shown by the quote from "The Epistle of Prayer" quoted above, which indicates that the transformations are "sudden and without any means."

When Shulman and Stroumsa say that in incremental self-transformation, the self is "the active agent of its own evolution," while in abrupt transition, the self is "a passive beneficiary of the process," the situation becomes much more complicated. This seems to be fair. However, as previously mentioned, the relationship between the practices involved in meditative activity and the outcomes obtained is not linear, regardless of whether the effects are incremental or abrupt. Shaw observes how “meditation subjects, selected and engaged with intent, coincide with surprise objects, or external activities, happening at critical and timely moments” in her essay on southern Buddhism in this book. Suddenness and passive recipiency are mixed with gradualness and individual agency, or, in Shaw's terms, "a ready openness to the fortuitous and lucky." The scientific aspects of meditation are mixed with the nontechnical aspects of daily life. Sudden religious conversion can also be claimed to imply a person's anchoring of more basic facets of life, at least as seen through the lens of the faith in question.

However, Shulman and Stroumsa may be correct in claiming that such conversion is unusual in meditative processes. Meditation is most commonly practiced within a particular tradition to which the adept already belongs, and the practice pursues long-term aims established by this tradition, at least in premodern contexts. Meditation is dependent on social settings as well as instruction, transmission, and perception cultures, in addition to the technique itself. It is often performed in groups, and many schools of meditation claim that the benefits of group meditation outweigh the benefits of individual meditation. Many meditative practices put considerable power in the hands of the master disciple, such as the abba of early Christianity, the shaikh of Sufism, the Indian guru, or the Chinese sh-fu. All of this raises the issue of what the essence of the transformed "individual" or "self" is. Is this self, like the nineteenth-century Western idealist view, essentially a subjective arena of human agency springing from within? Is it a tabula rasa that gets its key characteristics from experiences and pressures from the environment, resulting in an interior or interiorized sociality?

One potential understanding of meditation's deep incorporation into its sociocultural meaning is that the shifts are the result of an outside-in movement, in which socially determined perceptions are interiorized and influence the transition. These standards may be part of the ritual itself in certain cases, such as meditations on a particular religious subject, or they may be part of the atmosphere surrounding the practice in other cases. In either case, this outside-in movement resembles one of the potential operating processes of the placebo effect in psychology, neuroscience, and somatic medicine, where optimism and beliefs have been proposed as key influences in the treatment's outcome. It also has elements in common with autosuggestion and autohypnosis, all of which would be explored in more depth in the following article. Finally, it is consistent with social and cultural constructivist views on human cognition, which have long been dominant in cultural and religious studies.

However, this isn't the only way to explain how meditation and its sociocultural meaning are so closely linked. As we've seen, Shulman and Stroumsa argue that meditative change entails more involved agency, not less, than abrupt religious conversion. Meditation is sometimes seen as largely an individual endeavor, except in communal contexts, as argued above. The enhanced influence due to communal activity in meditation traditions is only partially attributed to simple social influences such as inspiration and encouragement; it is most commonly interpreted as the result of divine forces released during meditation. Directed meditations, such as some of the Sikh practices mentioned by Myrvold in this book, are at best peripheral to the area of meditation of most religions, in which practice is carried out in direct response to continuous guidance from a meditation guide, or a tape or compact disc, as in some of the Sikh practices described by Myrvold in this volume. Modern scientific conceptions of meditation tend to emphasize human agency, describing it as a "self-regulation exercise" that employs a "self-focus capacity" or a "self-observation mentality" to achieve a "self-induced state."

Furthermore, there is often a conflict between meditative traditions and the values and ideals engendered by their broader religious or cultural backgrounds, which meditation is often thought to overcome. The Chinese Zen “recorded sayings,” y-lù, urge meditators to “destroy the Buddha when you see him, and kill the patriarchs when you see them,” implying the need to let go of all inner obedience to sacred authority. The relationship between the established church and its numerous contemplative orders has been tense in Catholicism, owing to the contemplatives' insistence on their own personal visions of realities that the church feels compelled to control. The technological and non-semantic existence of some meditation objects—such as body and breath practices, “objectless” concentration training, meaningless mantras, aniconic yantras, de-semanticized Zen kans, and the blurring of the recitative material in some Sufi dhikr practices—indicates that meditation can transcend the webs of meaning offered by the cultural and religious context.

All of this suggests that, rather than just adapting to societal norms, people are becoming more autonomous. Social contexts can be more important than only providing external cultural values, moral beliefs, and interpretive webs of meaning. The environment's inspiration and affirmation do not actually promote conformism, but they may provide the sense of security required for individual exploration of existential problems. Similarly, the instruction of instructors or masters may not only be directed toward the exercise of authority, but may also aim to offer resources for technological or existential clarity to the pupil or disciple.

According to this perspective, meditative change entails not only the interiorization of external perceptions or webs of meaning, but also the activation of internal and individual cycles that may be physiological, psychological, or metaphysical in nature, or all three at once. This viewpoint is consistent with perennialism but does not need it, since the inner elements stimulated may or may not belong to what is called the perennial “core” of prayer, mysticism, or faith. In the next essay in this series, we'll look at how outside-in and inside-out shifts interact in different ways of meditative practice. 

Some modes of self-transformation, as described by Shulman and Stroumsa, do not always mean the long-term anchoring of an individual in the more fundamental aspects of life that meditative transformation and religious conversion are thought to imply. Demonic possession and spirit mediumship may refer to long- or short-term contact with entities that are outside of most people's daily experience, but they are rarely considered to be part of the more basic layers of life in the context mentioned above. The most apparent long-term change involved in spirit mediumship is not on the part of the spirit medium himself, but on the part of the group or person that the medium is representing. Finally, while madness may be long-term or short-term, it is generally assumed to cause a person to lose touch with the fundamentals of daily reality rather than becoming embedded in more essential facets of life.

Nonetheless, some currents of thought in a variety of cultures have treated certain types of madness as portals to or expressions of knowledge or inspiration, and are often also linked to meditative activity. Though none of these modifications—religious conversion, demonic possession, spirit mediumship, or insanity—are characteristic of meditation, they do exist, demonstrating the breadth of the changes associated with the activity. The qualifier "inner" in the word "inner transition" means that the modifications are implied to go beyond merely physical effects on the body.

This is in contrast to other medical and gymnastic practices, in which mental preparation is prioritized over physical accomplishment or well-being. The common use of physical exercise for character development falls somewhere in the middle. Both the body and the mind are normally engaged in meditation, but the “embodied” essence of meditation is not included in its meaning. Many meditative traditions emphasize the body by postures and gestures, as well as bodily meditation artefacts and numerous efforts to "liberate" the mind or spirit from the body. The verb zu "to rest" is a constituent aspect in many expressions for meditation in Chinese: jng-zu, sit in quietude, d-zu, hit-sit, chán-zu, sit in zen, zu-chán, sit in zen, ji-f-zu, sit cross-legged, dun-zu, sit straight, and zhèng-zu, sit straight. While sitting meditation is the most common form of the practice, there are also lying, standing, walking, and even dancing meditations. In the same way, though closed eyes are associated with meditation, half-closed or open eyes are also normal.

And, whatever part the body plays in the practice and method of meditation, the transformative changes it brings about go beyond bodily considerations. Mental States Any characteristics often associated with meditation, such as sitting posture and closed eyes, are not included in our classification. This is particularly true in the case of so-called meditative states of mind. These factors have little bearing on the concept, which emphasizes long-term trait changes rather than short-term state changes.

In this regard, our technical use of the word "meditation" differs from common English usage, which often refers to brief shifts in state, often as a result of practice and other times as a sudden shift with no relation to practice. The Arabic muraqaba, mushhada, and mu'yana; Sanskrit yoga, dhyana, and samadhi; and Chinese chán, borrowed from Sanskrit dhyana, all have this semantic discrepancy between activity and state of mind. In many meditative practices, transient states of mind play a significant part, and the transient encounters described in the meditative literature are often understood to be transformative in the sense of redefining a person's relationship to himself and his surroundings. This holds true for many of the traditions mentioned in this book, including Bryant's presentation of the seven ways of samadhi in the Yoga tradition. Meditation is often related to particular states of mind, and the essence of those transient states may often separate it from other activities.

Such states are also more easily defined and identified than long-term changes of trait, and most meditative traditions have terms that designate states or stages along the way. State-oriented practices are not excluded from the proposed concept, but they must also be expected to bring in long-term reforms. Sufism, for example, accepts a number of common intermittent states, but connects them to a number of long-term phases. Many traditions caution practitioners of the dangers of temporary states, which may tempt them away from true transformation. Schlütter explains how the Chinese Zen master Dà-hu criticizes those who want quietness instead of “breaking their mind of life and death” in his contribution to this volume. Another Chinese Zen master, X-yn, advises against "greedily pursuing the domain of purity," which he describes as "a Zen disease to be avoided by any practitioner."

In the Christian faith, “The Cloud of Unknowing” warnings against the practitioner wrongly “imagining... to be the fire of love, lighted and fanned by the power and kindness of the Holy Ghost,” and “The Epistle of Prayer” urges the practitioner to “neither care nor think whether you are in pain or in bliss.” In today's world, Jon Kabat-Zinn, the most well-known adherent of mindfulness meditation, states unequivocally that "every state of mind is a meditative state," whereas Acem Meditation's free mental attitude is defined as "neither a thought, nor a specific experience, nor a state of mind."

The pervasive interest in meditative states of mind reflects a deep fascination with "experience" that has dominated religious thought since the late eighteenth century, and contemporary religious studies since William James' classic book The Varieties of Religious Experience. The “experience” orientation of religious studies in general, and Asian religion studies in particular, has been slammed as a new Western concept imposed on premodern and Asian religions. Modern Hindu and Buddhist adherents and scholars have been chastised for translating the Western concept of "holy experience" into scriptures that are mostly prescriptive and performative rather than informative and experience-oriented. Nonetheless, both contemporary and conventional meditation discourses are often concerned not only with long-term inner development but also with the more urgent mental changes that meditation is also believed to bring about. Even if they are not uniformly present or included in the concept, such changes in state are prototypical aspects of meditation.

 

The following list attempts to provide a concise description of physiological, emotional, and spiritual states that are often associated with meditation: 

• A decrease in arousal.

• Concentration on the mind.

• Emotional sharpness.

• A feeling of being in touch with the most fundamental facets of life.

The conventional focus on silence, calmness, stillness, quietude, and tranquilly, as well as contemporary scientific interest in mental and physical stimulation, are covered in the first point. According to some researchers, the degree of arousal distinguishes meditative from ecstatic and shamanic phases, with ecstasy and shamanism suggesting a rise in arousal and meditation implying a decline.

The theoretical emphasis on transient relaxing of rationality and preconceived ideas, referred to as "logic relaxation," in which "ego-related problems and essential assessments are suspended," also belongs here. The second argument is that meditative states are correlated with a high level of mental concentration. Absorption differs from concentration in that it is involuntary rather than active, though the meanings often correlate, so that Sanskrit dhyana and samadhi, for example, may refer to both the process of focusing and spontaneous mental absorption, which may or may not be the result of meditation. Increased attention absorption is often interpreted as implying less or even no spontaneous thinking movement, also known as mind wandering. The third point is the subtle perception and attentive presence that are often associated with meditation. Sleep, drowsiness, or sloth was considered one of the five barriers to meditative development in Buddhism. Notice that this type of consciousness and presence is usually accompanied by satisfaction, as opposed to the caution and watchfulness often associated with adjectives like "warning" and "wakeful."

This mixture has been dubbed a "wakeful hypometabolic physiologic condition" in the scientific literature. The fourth argument is about fleeting encounters that are more directly related to our anxiety about a person's long-term anchoring in more basic facets of life. The experiences in question are often couched in metaphorical and strongly culture-dependent language, referring to a personified god, the self, a way or path, or more abstract notions such as emptiness or timelessness, or, in Kohn's definition of meditation, "a deeper, subtler, meditative state." It's debatable whether various accounts of such events refer to the same ultimate truth, as the perennial view claims, not just because such representations are always culturally situated, but also because the meanings themselves are so vague. Also within members of the same group, descriptive comparisons may mask significant experiential distinctions, varying from subtle illusions of a transcendent world to drunken hallucinations caused by psychedelic drugs.


Arousal reduction, in the idealized picture, allows for mental absorption as thoughts slow down, resulting in increased mental focus and, eventually, better interaction with essential facets of reality: 

  • Arousal reduction arousal reduction arousal reduction arousal reduction
  • Absorption of the mind
  • Automatic lucidity
  • A feeling of being in touch with the most basic facets of truth

When a person's long-term relationship to himself and his surroundings is redefined, this sense of touch becomes transformative. The image's simple simplicity, however, is deceiving, and not only because of the apparent difficulties in distinguishing the fundamental aspects of truth described in the fourth point. The first, second, and third points are all difficult to understand. Regarding the first argument, some cultures associate meditation with ecstatic states rather than any kind of arousal reduction, and religious historians have criticized Mircea Eliade's popular distinction between high-arousal and low-arousal ecstasy.

The exhausting and not especially relaxing experience of uncertainty is consistently mentioned as a precondition for meditative development in one Zen Buddhist practice. In terms of the second argument, efforts to clear the mind of random thoughts have been divisive throughout meditation's history. Vipayan, also translated as "insight meditation," is a distinct category in the Buddhist tradition that covers meditative rituals that do not strive for mental absorption. The Chinese Zen master Hānshān Déqīng changed his original emphasis on ridding the mind of thoughts to a focus on seeing the illusory nature of the thoughts and thus no longer being attached to them. Furthermore, while current research seems to support the first argument, namely arousal reduction, the evidence on the second point is much more ambiguous. On the one hand, seasoned practitioners of breathing meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and "choiceless consciousness" showed less mind wandering during meditation in two scientific trials, and self-reported time on task during breathing meditation improved in a third study, both appearing to support this claim. Another research, which asked participants to push a button every time their mind wandered during meditation, found no distinction between seasoned and beginner meditators, with mind wandering happening on average every eighty seconds over a twenty-minute session in both classes.

Some meditation effects have been found to be stronger in techniques that enable the mind to wander rather than in concentrative activities. In terms of the third stage, certain western modes of meditation, such as Transcendental Meditation and Acem Meditation, regard sleep as only one of many possible states of mind during meditation. Meditation's benefits can include mental focus, but it's also possible that sleep and drowsiness play a role. During a visit to a Chinese Zen monastery, I spoke with a monk who lamented about falling asleep as soon as he began meditating, but added that after those periods of meditation-induced sleep, his mind became much clearer. Yoga Nidra is a form of lucid sleep that is considered meditative in the Yoga tradition. To summarize, meditation is not always about individual mental states, but rather about cycles that can involve a variety of moods or emotions. As a result, our concept of meditation excludes any physiological, psychological, or metaphysical states typically associated with meditative practice. Meditation and Other Meditation Techniques To summarize, meditation is a method in the sense of a consciously undertaken and structured process requiring ongoing, i.e., repeated or long-term action aimed at achieving such outcomes, at least in part, by universal processes.

If the use of attention is marked by a limited concentrative emphasis or an accessible and inclusive consciousness, it is attention-based. The expected consequences involve a long-term and profound inner change that affects several dimensions of a person's life, including perceptual, cognitive, intellectual, and behavioral habits, as well as a transition toward more fundamental aspects of nature. In addition, a variety of other traits are often associated with meditation but do not appear in our description. We've seen how the traditional perception of meditation includes closed eyes and a sitting stance. In terms of outcomes, we've seen how meditation is often correlated with short-term changes of state, such as arousal reduction, mental absorption, mental insight, and a sense of interaction with basic facets of life. While none of these attributes are included in our classification, they are all considered to be representative of meditation.

Meditation, when described in this way, can be differentiated from a variety of other modes of practice with which it shares certain characteristics. The borderlines, on the other hand, are always gradient rather than absolute, and there is a lot of space for overlap. The following is only a rough sketch of each of these distinctions. Meditation and pure calming methods are often lumped together in scientific debate. Only meditation, in our terms, has long-term transformative goals beyond the wellness and well-being that come with simple stimulation. Methods like radical muscle activation and autogenic conditioning, with a few exceptions, are not promoted as transformative practices. In general, contemporary calming methods that rely solely on momentary rest and leisure are not included in our concept of meditation. Medicine and meditation are etymologically related, so they may overlap. Meditation is often practiced for better health in both modern and traditional settings, and inner practices can be supplemented by medicinal plants, tablets, and concoctions, as in the Tibetan practices mentioned by Samuel in this volume.

Meditation was once thought to have the ability to drive out ghosts that might otherwise inflict sickness in early China. However, as Roth points out in this book, there was no full correlation between meditation and medicine in early China, and the two were considered different areas. Only when health-oriented approaches are not used for long-term inner transformation are they considered meditation in our terms. Prayer, like meditation, is a consciously practiced activity that often observes more or less well-defined protocols. It always seeks to achieve certain outcomes, such as the forgiveness of sins, but it can also be inspired by a sense of duty rather than the expectation of potential benefits. One of the most important differences between meditation and prayer is the constant practice inherent in the former. Prayer involves much more nuanced operations, and it often involves sequences of acts or utterances rather than a single continuous activity; it is linear rather than continuous. Meditation, unlike prayer, is a technical mode of self-transformation rather than a communicative way of communicating commitment, plea, obedience, or gratitude to a spiritual being in the prototypical example. 

In fact, there is a lot of overlap, such as when an orthodox Christian prays the Jesus Prayer, which is a brief, formulaic, and intensely devotional prayer that is repeated over and again, often with the help of breathing exercises. Sufism's dhikr, Hinduism's japa, and Buddhism's niàn-fó, Chinese, or nen-butsu, Japanese, are all related practices. Devotional visualization approaches require similar considerations. Many types of meditation, including prayer, seek to make contact with basic facets of reality, and are often defined in anthropomorphic terms as supernatural entities with their own sense of agency. Prayer approaches meditation as it becomes wordless, as in certain types of Christian mysticism. While the word "mysticism" is broad and multifaceted, it usually refers to personal perceptions and states rather than technological concerns. Meditation as a tool for self-transformation can or may not be associated with a mystical orientation. Meditation differs from ritual in that it is typically more centered on the person rather than the group, and it involves continuous or repeated activity rather than the stepwise or sequential processes of ritual.

Meditation, on the other hand, should be done in a group environment and ritual in an individual setting. In a number of rituals, repetition is also an essential component. Meditation is also surrounded by routine, and practices incorporate meditative components, but the line between the two is blurry. Shamanism and spirit mediumship include visiting a certain state of mind and communicating with gods or spirits not for the shaman or medium's own sake, but for the sake of another person or a group. Though this is not the same as the self-transformative goal of meditation, many cultures believe that meditation is beneficial not only to the meditator but also to his surroundings, and group meditation is often performed for the sake of the whole society. What about bodywork like Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong? These are associated with inner change which require the use of attention, including the fact that they rely on the body. They vary from the more common types of meditation in that they contain sequential rather than repeated movements, in addition to being static and therefore long-lasting postures.

Traditional martial arts, which are often said to have meditative aspects, place a greater emphasis on external self-defense than internal transformation. However, it is arguable that some of them achieve this aim in part by including strategies for inner change, but, like body rituals, in a manner that is dependent on sequential rather than repeated motions. Though it is a transformative technique, psychotherapy varies from meditation in many ways. For starters, it necessitates the intervention of a physician, while meditation typically occurs without the constructive or interfering presence of another entity. Second, psychotherapy scarcely qualifies as a technique in our narrow context, as it lacks the long-term or routine characteristics that distinguish meditation. However, different types of instruction, which are often associated with meditation and are often considered necessary for its purpose, share these and other psychotherapy characteristics. There are meditative and non-meditative aspects of certain practices.

 Some practitioners pursue long-term improvement, whereas others seek short-term relaxation; some prioritize inner growth, whereas others prioritize physical health; some have moral goals, whereas others seek to enhance their career or athletic results. This pattern isn't limited to western meditation practices. Traditional meditative techniques can also be used to attain material prosperity, physical fitness, and other worldly benefits, as Myrvold and Samuel demonstrate in this book. This review of the essence of meditation does not address all of the issues surrounding the concept, and we might still be undecided on whether or not to incorporate specific activities. In the very least, we have a set of parameters to address.

Many techniques, whether they are called meditation or have other names, which come close to our meaning but lack one or two characteristics, putting them in the grey area between meditation and other forms of practice. Some meditation-like activities, for example, mimic ritual and prayer except that they are performed in steps rather than in a continuous or repeated manner. Rather than defining a natural class or taxon, our description aims to provide a single point of reference for cross-cultural and comparative research based on functional and theoretical considerations.