Meditation is a holistic discipline by which the practitioner attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness.
Meditation is a component of many religions, and has been practiced since antiquity. It is also practiced outside religious traditions.
Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and non-spiritual goals; achieving a higher state of consciousness or enlightenment, developing and increasing compassion and lovingkindness, receiving spiritual inspiration or guidance from God, achieving greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply cultivating a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.
Eastern meditation techniques have been adapted and increasingly practiced in Western culture. However, in a 1989 document called ''Aspects of Christian meditation'' the Catholic Church advised Catholics against mixing Christian meditation with eastern approaches.
The various techniques of meditation can be classified according to their mental orientation. The three main categories have brainwave patterns that distinguish each from the other.
One category entails focused attention on a selected object (thought, image, sound, etc.); these are often referred to as concentration.
A second category entails a non-reactive monitoring of present experience (perception, thought, feelings, etc.); these are often referred to as "mindfulness".
The third category entails moving beyond or "transcending" its own activity; these have been called "automatic self-transcending".
Some techniques shift among these three.
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Last Updated: Sep 16, 2014