What Exactly Is Meditation? 

Meditation can be described as a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.  Meditation is the practice of turning one’s attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or a word or phrase, known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means pivoting away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. Escaping from a noisy world isn’t always easy: It can take a bit of effort to keep oneself focused and to develop a daily routine.

A History of Meditation in the East: Hinduism and Buddism

Definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some of the earliest references to meditation are found in the Hindu scriptures, and it was around the 5th to 6th centuries that we begin to see other forms of meditation developed in Confucian, Taoist China, and Buddhist India. However, the structured practice of meditation that is more familiar to the modern method of meditation is believed to go back 5,000 years, with it developing in India.

The initial development by Hindus was to understand and get closer to the true nature of Brahman (“God”); the construction by Siddhartha Gautama, “the Buddha,” began when he reached enlightenment by meditating under a Bodhi Tree around 500 BC.

The major split between Hindu and Buddhist meditation occurred when Buddhist followers no longer believed that meditation should be used to reach a closer understanding with a higher being, which is what Hindu meditation was for, but rather as a means of realizing one’s interrelatedness with all things.

As Japanese Buddhism started to grow during the 8th century, the Japanese monk Dosho was taught Zen during a visit to China, and when he came back, he opened his first meditation hall in Japan. He wrote the instructions for sitting meditation, “Zazen,” and created a community of monks who primarily focused on that form of meditation.

Christianity, Islam, and Judaism also had their own forms of meditation. Jewish meditation included thoughtful approaches to prayer and study, such as Kabbalistic practices, Islamic meditation included the repetition of God’s 99 names as well as breathing controls, and Eastern Christian meditation included the repetition of specific physical postures and repetition of prayers.

Although meditation precedes all world religions, religions still have traditions of meditation. But, to practice meditation is different from practicing religion. You do not need to convert to a particular reflection to reach enlightenment. It is entirely dependent on your goals, purpose, and style.

Approaches towards Meditation

There are a variety of methods to meditation, but the concept is deceptively simple. Meditation reduces stress. Moreover, too much pressure is bad for your health. Some research indicates meditation may help with: Allergies, anxiety, asthma, binge eating, cancer, depression, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain, sleep difficulties, and substance abuse.

There are many reasons why people meditate. For some, it is part of a spiritual journey and has to do with the expansion of awareness and how they perceive and experience life. Some want to relax, and this benefit of meditation is self-evident. Other people are interested in the interests of meditation for health and general well-being.
The effectiveness of meditation comes from deep relaxation. When we are deeply relaxed, the body and mind are refreshed and revitalized. This brings many benefits that are both immediate and long-lasting.

Some key things to note about meditation:
• Meditation has been practiced in cultures all over the world for thousands of years
• Nearly every religion, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, has a tradition of using meditative practices
• Meditation can be used for religious purposes, and many people practice it independently of any religious or spiritual practices
• Meditation can also be used as a psychotherapeutic technique
• There any many different types of meditation and anyone can practice it

Some significant health benefits of regular meditation include:
Lower blood pressure
Better sleep
Less anxiety
Faster healing
Decreased use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes
Lower cholesterol
Stronger immune response

Meditation has also been associated with a longer life span, the better quality of life, fewer hospitalizations, and reduced health-care costs. It has also shown promise as an adjunct therapy in relieving mild depression, insomnia, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as in controlling substance abuse. The mind, heart, and body can improve with regular meditation.
All of the benefits of meditation listed combine to help you become a healthier person. Reducing blood pressure, anxiety and depression help you to handle pain and illness better, and as an individual, you can expect to become calmer and more centered, which will help you process decisions that lead to a healthy, long and fulfilled life.

Here at Aligning Within, we will share videos on Mediations under Your Centering Place section of the website.

~Diadel Kimberlee

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