Meditation – A Simple Explanation
February 24, 2009
Many people have wondered from time to time what exactly meditation is. There are many different answers to that question. At its core, though, meditation is the act of clearing the mind of distractions to achieve an internal goal. The process is incredibly personal and will change for each person based on their personal notions of meditation. A simple explanation of meditation could be the act of focusing ones energies inwardly, to promote growth.
It may be helpful for those just starting out with meditation to consider the origins of the word. Meditation comes to us from the Latin words meditari – to think, to dwell upon, to exercise the mind – and mederi – to heal. The original Sanskrit word for meditation was medha – wisdom. Combining these definitions, you can reach the conclusion that meditation means to use one’s mind to heal (mind and/or body) and gain wisdom.
The practice of meditating is not new. It has been a common element in most of the world’s religions in various forms since the birth of religion. As such, much of its history has been devoted to the realm of the spiritual. Buddhists in particular, have embraced meditation as a way of gaining enlightenment.
But there are other uses for meditation that are being employed in modern life. Meditation has been proven to be an effective alternative for drugs in dealing with stress. By clearing one’s mind of all distractions, the practitioner can achieve a sense of calm that is lacking in our busy lives. Meditation may take longer to perform, but the results are more long-lasting and come with none of the side effects of medication.
There is also a growing body of evidence being put forth that states the mind actually has the ability to heal physical ailments. The theory of mind-body healing proponents is that as the brain enters into different states of awareness (measured by frequency length of brains electrical activity); it releases hormones that promote cell repair. There is still a long way to go, before this becomes fully accepted by the medical community, but is interesting.
Meditation does not need to be a formal activity. It has common to refer to hobbies that are found to be calming as meditation. For some people this means that their “meditation” may be listening to music or baking. While not as all encompassing as the traditional concept of meditation, this still has the benefit of reducing stress. Stress has been shown to aggravate many physical medical conditions. Thus even immersing oneself into a hobby can achieve the benefits of meditation.
As you can see meditation has many forms. There is the traditional Yogi or Buddhist interpretation of what meditation is, as well as the more loosely defined calming hobby activities. The one thing that all forms of meditation share in common is that they involve cutting out distractions and focusing one’s mind to achieve a goal (enlightenment, wisdom, healing, calming).
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