Meditation

Variations of Meditation According to Religions

While most people would agree that meditation is a mental
practice, the objectives of different people and different
religions vary.

In this article, we will discuss the differences among
major religions on how they view the practice of
meditation.

1. Hinduism

- this religion probably has the oldest texts that deal
with meditation. While there are several types of
meditation in Hinduism, they generally focus on achieving a
calm state of mind.

This is one of the more popular perceptions of meditation.

2. Buddhism

- founded by Buddha in 500 BC, this religion’s take on
meditation is that which aims to attain enlightenment just
like its founder.

3. Christianity

- this religion treats meditation as a prayer. Thus
practices such as praying the rosary can be considered as
meditation in the Christian world.

Another form of meditation practiced by Christians is by
pondering upon a certain religious passage. It has a
striking difference against

Eastern religions since Christian meditation involves an
active mind while the opposite is true for Eastern
practices.

4. Judaism

- what is referred to as Jewish meditation is in fact a
collection of practices that revolve around practices such
as contemplation, visualization, analysis and gaining
intuitive insights.

5. Taoism

- while most religions practice meditation while remaining
still, Taoism takes a physically active take on this. It is
evident in the practice of Tai Chi wherein practitioners do
what is called ‘meditation in motion’.

As you see, there are basic differences among religions on
how they approach meditation. However, a common thread that
keeps them together is that they treat meditation as a
mental practice.

The Origins of Meditation

The practice of meditation has been around for several
millennia. Although there are no recorded texts which would
point exactly when this practice started, several ancient
civilizations became the cradle of today’s meditation
practices.

India particularly is hailed as the proponent of meditation
as an organized practice. Over centuries, many Hindi
scholars have written about meditation, from the ways of
doing it to its benefits. Some of the well-known Hindi
texts include the Vedas and the Yoga Sutras which was
written by Patanjali.

But no one has arguably been more influential in the world
of meditation than Siddharta Gautama, otherwise known as
Buddha. In 500 BC, he achieved enlightenment through the
practice of meditation. His influence spread throughout
Asia and eventually the whole world.

While the East has been practicing meditation for several
centuries already, the Western world picked the practice up
much later. In fact, it was only in the mid-20th century
when meditation became a popular practice among Westerners.

Today, more and more meditation centers and organizations
crop up in the West. While meditation used to be
intertwined with religious practices, a good number of
Western meditation centers are stripped off this spiritual
aspect. They usually focus now on the health benefits of
this practice especially in the fast-paced world of today.

But regardless of the loss of the spiritual side of
meditation, it is still widely-recognized for its benefits
to people’s mental well-being. It was and it still remains
as one of the central aspects of meditation.

Meditation to Reduce Stress

People encounter stress everyday, some do at work or
school, others at home. While they are usually able to cope
with stress, sometimes the burden simply becomes too much
that people break down because of it.

The Science of Stress

In the General Adaptation Syndrome model designed by Hans
Selye, he identifies three stages that people undergo when
stressed.

During the first stage, the body goes on a state of alarm
at the realization of a threat. In this stage, cortisol is
released by the body.

The second stage is where the body becomes unable to cope
with the strain until its resources are depleted.

Finally, the body breaks down which include the exhaustion
of the immune system. Because of this, the body is unable
to fight of sicknesses which then expose the person to
illnesses.

How Meditation Helps Reduce Stress

Meditation is one method which can help reduce the stress
levels of a person. By calming the mind and giving the
person a sense of control over things, the things that are
considered threats (the things which cause stress) become
easier to manage.

But the reduction of stress isn’t the end of the exercise.
Since stress can make people prone to illnesses, reducing
stress can help in keeping the person healthy.

The practice of meditation, therefore, can result in
improved health and resistance to illnesses.

So the next time you feel stressed out, try to calm
yourself down by practicing meditation. While your problems
won’t exactly go away, you at least become mentally
prepared to face them.

Meditation to Improve Concentration

Today, there are a lot of things that help in keeping us
entertained. In the internet alone, there are a multitude
of websites that do such that like video sharing sites,
gaming sites and other websites which cater to our
interests.

While there is nothing wrong with entertaining ourselves, a
problem arises with our constant need for distractions.
Because of that, it becomes difficult for us to focus on
one thing.

We do not need to take extreme measures to help us focus.
There are practices which can do the job for us. It
includes the practice of meditation.

People take up meditation for different purposes and
improving concentration is one of them. There are several
methods by which meditation does its job.

One is through breathing exercises. Even an exercise that
is as simple as being aware of the times we inhale and
exhale can do wonders to our ability to concentrate.

While it may sound easy, it can be quite difficult
especially if one has to deal with distractions such as
outside noise.

Another method is by reciting a mantra. A mantra is a
phrase or a sound that is recited repeatedly. For
Catholics, praying the rosary is a form of a mantra.

The repetition becomes the center of the meditation to
which the person’s attention becomes focused.

There are other more methods by which meditation can help
improve concentration. However, the two mentioned above are
the most basic and could help beginners start out with the
practice.

Meditation and Pain

Anyone who has heard of the expression about the power of
mind over matter will easily understand the benefit of
meditation on people suffering from different forms of
physical pain.

This article will deal with several methods by which
meditation can help in alleviating a person’s condition.

Concentration techniques in meditation can help in easing a
person’s suffering by keeping his/her mind away from the
source of the pain. Usually, the pain is magnified because
people choose to focus on it.

If their attention is trained somewhere else, the pain
becomes more manageable.

Another method is called mindfulness meditation. This
involves being aware of one’s present condition and
accepting it as such. If a person accepts that he/she is
currently in pain, dealing with it would be much easier.

Then there’s visualization. It could be considered as a
form of self-hypnosis. It is done by creating an image of
the pain and imagining it moving away from the body.

As suggested by these methods, they do not actually take
away pain from the person. Rather, they make dealing with
the pain much easier.

This is also the reason why methods like those mentioned
should be coupled with the proper medical advice. In fact,
consulting one’s doctor is advised before even trying the
meditation exercises out.

Otherwise, there will be a risk of overlooking more serious
conditions that could be causing the pain. Along with the
proper medical advice, meditation can help improve a
person’s tolerance for pain.

Meditation and Dealing with Fear and Phobia

Every person has a phobia of certain things, be it of
heights or speaking in front of people. While most people
overcome their fears, some are crippled by it. This
therefore prevents them from doing things that they would
otherwise find enjoyable.

Meditation is one way for people trapped by their phobias
to finally get out of their shell and start living the full
life.

A definition of fear is that it is the anxiety caused by a
perceived danger. It is the state of mind by which a person
foresees something wrong happening either to him/her or the
people around him/her.

Meditation helps in overcoming a person’s fear by altering
his/her state of mind. There are several ways by which this
practice can help people achieve this.

One such way is called mindfulness meditation. By training
the person to live in the now, his/her attention is veered
away from the future where that person perceives the
danger. Besides, it is only a mere perception and such
event may or may not actually happen.

Visualization can also help a person cope with fear by
making the person imagine what he/she will do in case the
perceived danger comes. By being mentally prepared for such
an event, the person will be able to deal with the future
situation better.

Again, fear is a mere state of mind. Facing it, therefore,
needs some alteration in the person’s perception of what
may or may not happen. It can be achieved by the practice
of meditation.

Making the Most Out of Meditation

There are people who take up meditation and do it
faithfully for several weeks before finally abandoning it.

Some become frustrated that they are not getting the
results that they expected when they first signed up for
it.

Below are several tips that can help you make the most out
of your practice of meditation.

1. Practice meditation in a quiet place.

While you cannot completely shut yourself out of the
distractions around you, it would help a lot if you can
meditate in a quiet area, or at least a place which cuts
down outside noise considerably.

2. Choose a room with comfortable temperature.

Whether the room’s too cold or too hot, both can destroy
your mood for meditation. It would therefore help to find a
room with a temperature control so you can adjust it to a
temperature where you’re most comfortable.

3. Wear comfortable clothes.

Again, the bane of people practicing meditation is
distraction. You should therefore wear comfortable clothes
as they would help you be more at ease and relaxed.

4. Find a guru.

Sometimes, it can be frustrating to practice meditation
without the proper guidance. A guru can guide you and will
help a lot in giving you the most out of meditation.

5. Read books on meditation.

Whether you have a guru or not, it would help to have
reference materials which can help broaden your
appreciation for this activity. Books do not only give you
information but also insights on how to meditate better.

Introduction to Meditation

Today we live in a fast-paced world. Things happen so
quickly that more often that not, we do not have the chance
to react to the things thrown at us. We somehow lose the
ability to think things over in favor of lightning-quick
decisions.

But it shouldn’t be so. Every one of us needs to slow down
a little from time to time and be calm. Otherwise, stress
will build up and will affect how we deal with the people
around us, not only in the workplace but also at home.

The practice of meditation is a way for us to be still for
a while and let our minds become focused until we become
calm enough to deal with the daily pressures of life.

Some may think that meditation is a completely religious
practice. While it is true that a lot of religions,
especially Eastern ones, take meditation as an integral
part of their practice, it is not necessarily the case. In
fact, more and more people who aren’t necessarily religious
get into meditation.

People practice meditation for a variety of reasons. While
we already mentioned that it helps us become still in this
fast-paced world, other people meditate for health reasons
and to attain a higher state of consciousness, among
others.

So if you think that life is stressing you out, it’s
probably time for you to slow things down a little bit.
Your mind is probably too distracted with so many things to
consider and to think about. Meditation can help you calm
down and let you be stress and worry-free.

Breathing and Meditation

Breathing is an integral part of meditation. Proper
breathing is required in many practices of meditation and
is therefore an important tool to be possessed by people
who wish to perform this activity.

The practice of proper breathing while meditating helps a
person relax while doing the exercise. Proper breathing is
achieved by inhaling through the nose, letting the
diaphragm (not the chest) expand and exhaling through the
mouth.

Doing this slows down a person’s heart rate which leads to
a relaxed mood.

Breathing also plays a significant role when a person aims
to improve his/her concentration. This is done by focusing
the mind on the act of taking in air and feeling it pass
through the nostrils until the air is finally exhaled
through the mouth.

While this may sound easy, it can be quite challenging when
done for the first time.

Then there’s the method for increasing a person’s
awareness. Just like the concentration technique mentioned
above, it involves putting one’s attention to his/her
breathing.

But instead of focusing on the act of inhaling and exhaling
air, it is the sensation of breathing where the person
trains his/her thoughts. The feeling of the air passing
through the nose, filling the lungs and expanding the
diaphragm is the sensation that a person should look for.

It helps him/her feel how it is to be truly alive.

This article has shown how important breathing is in the
practice of meditation. It is no wonder, therefore, that
the two are inseparable activities that a student of
meditation should learn.

Benefits of Meditation

The benefits of meditation have been known to humans ever
since it was first practiced several millennia ago. This
article will discuss some of them in detail and will
outline the mental as well as the health benefits of this
practice.

1. Reduces stress

- since meditation helps calm the mind and relax the
individual, it helps a lot in reducing stress. This is
usually achieved through the breathing exercises that form
a part of the practice.

Stress reduction is one of the main reasons why people take
up meditation.

2. Various health benefits

- there are already documented cases wherein meditation was
shown to have helped in curing an illness. A landmark study
is the one done in 1976 by Australian psychiatrist Ainslie
Meares which was published in the Medical Journal of
Australia.

The study documented how a patient’s cancer regressed after
sessions of intensive meditation. Meditation is also known
to lower blood pressure levels, which is beneficial to
patients who are at risk of hypertension and other
heart-related conditions.

3. Improves concentration

- one practice in meditation involves focusing on a
particular object such as a candlelight, or reciting a
mantra. Doing activities like these have been shown to
improve a person’s concentration.

4. Acceptance of events

- another aspect of meditation is the ability to take
things as they are. This helps a lot in reducing a person’s
frustrations over things that he/she cannot control.

People who will surely benefit from this include those who
are undergoing anger management.