By Susan Chow, PhD, ELS
Throughout history, meditation has played a large role in many spiritual and religious practices. Some of these techniques and beliefs are discussed in this article.
Many mediation techniques commonly practiced today originate from ancient Buddhist meditation texts, which continue to be used by followers of the religion today.
Meditation is important on the pathway to enlightenment and nirvana in the Buddhist faith, which are believe to help reach a state of serenity and insight. Several techniques including breath meditation and recollections are widely taught in Buddhist schools, but there are also distinct methods that differ between different regions. As a result, Buddhist meditation is a variable practice with many different paths that may lead to enlightenment and nirvana.
In recent times, many non-Buddhist individuals have adopted their meditative techniques for various reasons, including increasing awareness of self, and the practice is becoming more popular.
Taoist meditation was greatly influenced by Buddhist practices and involves various techniques of concentration, insight and visualization. Followers of the practices may visualize the solar and lunar essences within their body to give health and long life.
Inward training involves breath control meditation and the enlargement and relaxing of the mind to achieve qi cultivation. Sitting forgetting meditation involves the mental removal of the limbs and an existence with Transformation Thoroughfare.
There are various styles used in Hindu meditation taught in different schools. Yoga is commonly practiced initially to prepare and oneself for meditation and self-realization. . One yoga practice states there are eight limbs of aloneness: discipline, rules, postures, breath control, senses withdrawal, one-pointedness of mind, meditation and realization of self (Samadhi).
Moksha is the desired state of Hinduism, which can be thought of as similar to nirvana of Buddhism, being calm and concentrated with the self within
Islamic meditation, or Sufism, focuses on thinking that leads to knowledge and utilized methods of breathing control and the repetition of holy words or mantras. There are several similarities with Buddhist meditation, such as the concentration technique and focused introspection.
Meditation is believed to improve healing ability and enhance creativity, in addition to awakening the heart and mind and allowing inner growth and submission to God.
Meditation and prayer both play a central role in the Baha’i faith to reflect upon the message from God. It is encouraged for followers of the faith to meditate with a prayerful demeanor to turn towards God and focus on the divine power.
Meditation is commonly used to reflect on the Word of God and deepen the understanding of his teachings. This is believed to maintain spiritual communion with God, increasing the transformative power that receptive prayer can facilitate.
However, the place of meditation in the religion is flexible as the founder of the religion, Baha’ullah, left the type and purpose of the practice up to the interpretation of the individuals.
Meditation is central to the spiritual practice of Jainism and is thought to help attain enlightenment and the 24 Tirthankaras are all exist in meditative postures.
Jain meditation is thought to be the pathway to salvation and attainment of the three jewels: faith, knowledge and conduct. With these jewels, a state of complete freedom is gained.
Meditation has a long history in Judaism, including from references from early religious texts, the Tanach. The purpose of the practice is thought to be to understand the Divine.
Various methods may be used, including mental visualization and hisbonenus to reflect on oneself and obtain greater understanding.
Meditation, known as simran, is needed to achieve spiritual goals alongside good deeds in Sikhism. The practice is used to feel God’s presence and become one with the divine light.
There are believed to be ten gateways to the body, nine of which are physical holes (e.g. nostrils, eyes, ears, mouth, urethra, anus) and the tenth is the Dasam Duaay, an invisible hole for spiritual uses that is needed for enlightenment.
Meditation can be used as a form of prayer in the Christian faith, to connect with and reflect upon the word of God. It commonly consists of focusing on a series of thoughts, such as a passage from the Bible, and reflecting on its meaning.
It differs from other forms of meditation that originated in the East, as it does not utilize mantras that are repeated to help in the process of enlightenment. Instead, it is believed to deepen the personal relationship with God. Christian leaders have warned against the integration of Christian meditation with Eastern meditative techniques.
Last Updated: Nov 22, 2015