What do you know about meditation? Let us find out some meanings, history and relationship of meditation to our body.
There are various definitions and explanations of Meditation. People use different techniques to achieve different goals through meditation.
History remains unable to locate the person, who first started meditation to attain self-integrity and peace of mind.
The word “Meditation” means to think, to think about something or to consider something. Later, people started using this word with reference to spiritual practices followed by the Eastern world.
Buddhists use word “dhyana” which is equivalent to meditation. Meditation is basically the word, which is used in modern English. Previously, it was used with different names.
Now, it has been confirmed that meditation is equivalent to the Christian term “Contemplation” in its meaning and perspectives.
Various Definitions of Meditation
There is not any single definition of meditation. Several personalities have elaborated the meanings of meditation with their own perspectives.
We will look at some widely used definitions of meditation:
Some scholars define meditation as steady thought and consideration. This is the most basic and quite open definition of meditation.
This definition presents only one thing that one has to think about something, but this definition does not tell on which object one should concentrate? Usually, teachers ask students to concentrate on their studies. Is it really meditation?
According to the second type of definition, meditation is a pious religious or spiritual thought.
This definition also limits the meaning of meditation by connecting it to only religious thoughts. Other thoughts and ideas are discarded in this way.
Meditation is a process of continuously thinking upon a specific idea, verse or object. This concentration is equivalent to the process in which cattle chews cud endlessly.
Some definitions consider daydreaming as meditation, but there is much controversy exists in taking it as meditation.
Daydreaming cannot be called as meditation because it is usually a conscious process. Moreover, it does not give the same spiritual and healing effects which are attached with meditation.
Overall, meditation is an internal practice of a person which takes several forms. It mainly changes the mind of an individual, which brings peace to the mind and gives relief from mental stresses.
Meditation may mean two different things to two people, depending on where and how they learned to meditate.
Meanwhile, the primary purpose of meditation is shared by the many different approaches, and that is attaining a higher level of consciousness.
This altered state is a means of transforming and changing the mind such that it becomes calm and focused all the time.
Origin of Meditation
Finding the origin of meditation may be quite difficult. Meditation is deep rooted in Asia, and countries like China, India and Japan are practicing it for thousands of years. Tribes in South India had developed Tantric Meditation about 15 thousand years back.
Tantric meditation was in common use those days. So, we can put forward that concept of meditation emerged from Asia and took various forms in all over the world.
Other views about the origin of meditation claim that it originated from the human being’s curiosity for the purpose of men, purpose of the universe and to find God by looking inside the self to realize the nature and its existence.
Historical Perspectives of Meditation
All historians have consensus over the points that, meditation has evolved during unknown ancient times and it was not practiced in such a way in which it is practiced today.
Taoists started practicing meditation during 500 to 600 BC. Buddhists also started using meditation in the same era.
In history, Buddha is one of the greatest promoters of meditation. He was the one to teach meditation in Asia during 500 BC.
Buddha has introduced the basic forms of meditation, and all the world adapted and transformed these meditation techniques according to their needs and purposes.
An important point to note here is that Eastern countries were the origin of meditation and getting relief through various meditation techniques. West had adopted this culture from East.
During 20th century, Western researchers conducted researches on meditation and came to know about its physical and psychological benefits. Since then, they are using meditation as a widespread practice in their culture.
Western population widely practiced meditation for peace of mind and to get relief from daily life stresses. Nowadays, a downfall has been observed in practices of meditation, and the reason is a lack of time.
Nevertheless, in your own little way and your own little time you can enjoy the moments and benefits of meditation.
Link Between Meditation And Your Body
When we experience stress every day, it causes physical damage to our body. Meditation could be the answer to this problem.
Meditation affects the body in the opposite way that stress does. Not only it calms down the body, it helps the body to repair itself and prevents new damages to the body too.
So what is the link between meditation and your body?
Meditation can reverse your stress response and thus protect you from the effects of chronic stress.
According to a research which compared a meditating group to a non-meditating group, they found that non-meditating group has worse stress responses such as high blood pressure, pain syndromes and other conditions compared to the meditating group.
Experts have said that any condition caused or worsened by stress can be alleviated through meditation.
When you are meditating, you are actually relaxing your body. This helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure and it also improves heart rate, breathing and brain waves.
You start using oxygen more efficiently and you also sweat less. When you do it daily, your immune functions starts improving. Once your mind is cleared of its stress, your creativity also increases.
In people who are meditating, brain scans have shown that there is an increase in activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate. Buddhist monks have shown that meditation produces long-lasting changes in brain activity areas involved in memory, attention, learning, and perception.
Meditation also helps ward off illness and infections. It is an immune booster. When you are relaxed, you are less prone to suffering infectious disease.
Whereas for stressed people, their bodies are already physical damaged and their immune function is already low, so it does not take much to get them sick.
Ways to Meditate
Meditation is easier said than done. There are some who devote their time to studying this practice. Still, many of the techniques require very little in terms of materials and resources.
For instance, in techniques that is aimed at focusing one’s attention, the only requirement is a quiet place and an object that the person can pay attention to.
The latter may even not be necessary if the practitioner chooses to focus instead on a mantra or his own breathing pattern.
There are two other important elements of meditation, and these are universal requirements no matter which technique is to be performed.
First of all, the setting must be as quiet as possible, especially for those who are just starting out.
A quiet setting does not only refer to the ambient noise, but also to a lack of distractions such as modern gadgets, television, and reading materials.
In terms of body position, the familiar lotus position, which requires that person be comfortably seated, is the most popular body posture that is associated with meditation.
However, meditation may also be performed while lying down in a supine or even when walking.
As a person develops skill in entering the meditative state, he or she can meditate while on the move or in noisy and highly stressful environments.
Practicing meditation regularly allows a person to “escape” the chaos of traffic, a long line at the grocery store, or an all-day meeting.
The key to meditation is for the person to find a level of physical comfort which allows him to direct his mind toward the task at hand.
Meditation and Breathing
Breathing plays an important role in meditative practice. In fact, mastering a specific breathing pattern is central to the correct performance of many meditation techniques.
The objective of the slow, deep, and diaphragmatic breathing pattern that is taught to meditation novices is to improve breathing efficiency by promoting the use of the diaphragm.
The diaphragm is the primary muscle of respiration and using it is the most effective way to breathe, bringing an adequate amount of oxygen to all the cells of the body. This part of meditation is said to heal.
Most people are unaware that their breathing pattern is not relaxed and efficient. Instead of the diaphragm, they are mostly using muscles of the shoulders, neck, ribs to breathe, which are accessory muscles of respiration.
The process is not that hard to master. There are classes that are being offered that can help in mastering the proper techniques of breathing.
Although meditation is a little difficult to start, it is not difficult to learn. All you need is practice. Over time, you will be able to meditate properly and to clear your mind, you too will be able to enjoy the benefits that meditation has to offer.
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