The New Age movement is full of traditions and mind-body practices that are said to have a profound effect on the spiritual and physical body. However, none are as powerful as the practice of meditation. If you’re new to the practice or simply would like to expand your understanding of this ancient ritual, then you need to know what meditation is and how it connects to spirituality.
The Definition of Meditation
According to the Buddhist Centre, “Meditation is a means of transforming the mind.” Meditation practices are said to help in developing greater concentration, clarity, and positivity, as well as assist in seeing the world for precisely what it is. In a high-paced chaotic world, the practice of stillness is more of an art than an ability that can be learned. Putting away our cell phones, closing our laptops, and tuning down and inward is no easy task. But once we realize the positive and powerful effect meditation can have on our minds and bodies, we begin to understand why the ancient tradition has prevailed throughout the centuries.
The Origin of Meditation
Archeologists date meditation back to 5,000 BCE, where wall art in the Indus Valley depicted individuals sitting in well-known meditation postures. Other evidence can clearly be seen in Indian scriptures that depict similar stances. Additionally, variations of meditation are evident in modern spiritual practices such as prayer rituals. Virtually all significant cultures throughout human history have delved into some form of meditation, but secular evidence can date the practice back to at least 7,000 years ago.
Today, we can clearly see the connection between ancient meditation and modern religions through varying practices. In Judaism, for example, Kabala is a practice which is basically a meditative study. On the other side of the coin is the Islamic form of meditation which comes in two practices: Tafakkur and Sufism. Tafakkur is a contemplative meditative practice whereas Sufism aims to restore the mind and body back to the primordial sate of fitra through ritual purification.
Buddhism obviously has many meditative practices, and is typically seen as the father of western meditation. Christianity exudes many meditative traits including the counting of rosary beads, engaging in the Adoration, as well as such biblical teachings as “Be still and know that I am God.”
Regardless of the religion, it is evident that meditation has a direct link to spirituality.
The Effects of Meditation
Obviously, meditation has a profound effect on human beings. Some of the physical effects of meditation include the alteration of the way our brains process emotions, the amount of empathy we have (no really there is research that shows we are more empathetic when in a meditative state “source: http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/06/23/meditations-effects-on-emotion-shown-to-persist/56372.html ), increased memory function, and our ability to absorb important information. We also benefit physically in the form of lower blood pressure, reduced insulin production, and up to a 48% reduction in heart attacks and strokes.
But while we can quantify the effects of meditation on the physical body we are less capable of quantifying its effects on our spirituality. Meditation is an individual experience that isn’t something that can be studied in the laboratory. It simply must be experienced. However, the link between empathy and meditation is undeniable. It stands to reason, therefore, that meditation is a must for anyone who wishes to lead a more conscious life centered on peace and happiness.