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Meditation is a holistic, subjective discipline, most often done without any external involvement, except perhaps prayer beads to count prayers. It involves invoking and cultivating a calming inner state, such as peaceful mindfulness or compassion. The term “meditation” can refer to the process of reaching the state, as well as the state itself. The word, meditation, comes from the Latin root Meditatum, which means “to ponder.“ Meditation is often a valuable tool to help control stress, and even ten or fifteen minutes per day can help you overcome stress and find a sense of inner peace and balance. There are hundreds of specific types of meditation. People practice meditation for many reasons within the context of their culture or religion. However, one need not be religious to practice meditation. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity, especially by monastics. The following are some of the most well-known styles of meditation.

Buddihism contains hundreds of specific meditative methods. Buddhist meditation is concerned with two themes: transforming the mind, and using it to explore itself and other phenomena. Meditation is also practiced for health benefits. Meditation in Tibetan Buddhism is an integral part of religious life, along with other practices. In Zen Buddhism there are three common styles of meditation: koan practices; the silent and contemplative effort to answer a koan, or riddle, which cannot be understood through logical thought alone; shikantaza - just sitting, and anapanasati, which means to watch the sensations of the breath. Satori during meditation is a flash of awareness that the universe is whole - is an essential element of Zen Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism emphasizes the meditative development of mindfulness and concentration.

Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which an attempt is made to get in touch with and reflect upon the revelations of God. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts (e.g. a biblical scene involving Jesus and the Virgin Mary) and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God. Christian meditation contrasts with cosmic styles of eastern meditation as radically as the portrayal of God the Father in the Bible contrasts with discussions of Krishna or Brahman in Indian teachings. Unlike eastern meditations, most styles of Christian meditations do not rely on the repeated use of mantras, but are intended to stimulate thought and deepen meaning. Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God.

Hinduism meditation is not confined to any school or sect and has expanded beyond Hinduism to the West. Today there is a new branch of Yoga which combines Christian practices with Yogic postures known popularly as Christian Yoga. The influential modern proponent of Hinduism who first introduced Eastern philosophy to the West in the late 19th century, Swami Vivekananda, describes meditation as follows:
Meditation has been laid stress upon by all religions. The meditative state of mind is declared by the Yogis to be the highest state in which the mind exists. When the mind is studying the external object, it gets identified with it, loses itself. To use the simile of the old Indian philosopher: the soul of man is like a piece of crystal, but it takes the colour of whatever is near it. Whatever the soul touches ... it has to take its colour. That is the difficulty. That constitutes the bondage.

New Age meditations are often influenced by Eastern philosophy, mysticism, Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism, yet may contain some degree of Western influence. In the West, meditation found its mainstream roots through the social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, when many of the youth of the day rebelled against traditional belief systems as a reaction against what some perceived as the failure of Christianity to provide spiritual and ethical guidance. New Age meditation as practiced by the early hippies is regarded for its techniques of blanking out the mind and releasing oneself from conscious thinking. This is often aided by repetitive chanting of a mantra, or focusing on an object. Many New Age groups combine yoga with meditation where the control of mind and breathing is said to be the highest yoga. Zen Yoga is a style of meditation used as an avenue to touching the spiritual nature that exists within each of us.

Taoism includes a number of meditative and contemplative traditions, said to have their principles described in the I Ching, Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu and Tao Tsang among other texts. Often Taoist Internal martial arts, especially Tai Chi Chuan are thought of as moving meditation. A common phrase being, "movement in stillness" referring to energetic movement in passive Qigong and seated Taoist meditation; with the converse being "stillness in movement", a state of mental calm and meditation in the tai chi form. In a form of meditation using visualization, such as Chinese Qi Gong, the practitioner concentrates on flows of energy (Qi) in the body, starting in the abdomen and then circulating through the body, until dispersed.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is both a specific form of mantra meditation, and a spiritual movement. They were introduced in India in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1917–2008) and achieved global reach in the 1960s. As many as six million people have been trained in the TM technique, including The Beatles and other well-known public figures. The TM movement has programs and holdings in dozens of countries.


 


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