Meditation is defined as a mind-body technique, which practices awareness, and induces tranquility in order to connect the mind and the body. It is also described as "mental fasting," implying clearing and cleansing of the mind by the absence of distractions and negative emotions (Leikin, 2003). It has shown to benefit its users psychologically, physically, as well as spiritually. Meditation works by bringing about a relaxed and healthy state by physiologically and biochemically altering the body. It is characterized as a state of rest, while allowing the body to become more alert. This is accomplished through a dramatic decrease in metabolism, in turn, relaxing breathing patterns, and thus slowing activity within the nervous system. Upon completion of meditation one is more likely to show faster reactions to certain stimuli, a greater level of creativity, and a more conscious understanding and comprehension (ICBS Inc., 2004). Vast health and spiritual benefits can be observed, as well. This paper will describe and discuss how meditation came about, the context in which it was used in the past, reasons for its use as compared to modern uses, as well as, ways in which meditating can heal the body and soul. It will also compare different forms of meditation, including; what each method entails, examples of postures to achieve each method, and results that can be achieved. Meditation was originally practiced spirituality in many ancient religions, including Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and most commonly, Buddhism. The founder of Buddhism, Siddharta Gotama became the master of the art of meditation and went on to teach it to his followers. He became known as "Buddha," ("Enlightened or Awakened One.") (Saunders, 2000). Buddhism is one of the world's oldest and largest religions, starting over 2500 years ago. With Buddha as their leader (not as their God), followers learn the Four Noble Truths; First, "all existence is suffering," secondly, "there is a cause for this suffering," third, "the cause may be brought to an end," and fourth, "the discipline necessary to bring it to an end is enlightenment (also known as, Buddhism)" (Saunders, 2000). Buddhists basic beliefs entail interconnectedness with everyone and everything, there is no beginning and no end (which involves the concept of reincarnation), and the law of "cause and effect," or kharma. (Saunders, 2000). However, Buddhists believe that kharma can be under our control with the practice of meditation. In this way, meditation can be used to "burn away" our bad kharma by replacing negative thoughts, actions, and attitudes with positive ones. Meditation brings the ones who practice it spiritually closer to the world, by reducing suffering and kharma and eventually allowing that person to become free both (Zen Mind International, 2004). This is just one example of religious use of meditation, which allows for spiritual benefits. As mentioned, it is quite apparent that meditation carries spiritual benefits along with it, even without implementing religion. Although, presently, many people begin practicing meditation with the intent of achieving its physical benefits, most will go on to incorporate meditation into their spiritual well being (ICBS Inc.,2004). They find that meditation is a way in which to spiritually grow, and to become one with their God (if religious) and with the universe. They also find themselves more aware of their environment and their interconnectedness with the world around them, as well as feeling rejuvenated and possessing vitality, which compares with the feelings received by Buddhism. There are a few reasons and explanations for these similar feelings. For one, this interconnectedness is thought of coming from the act of emphasizing breathing and breathing exercises while meditating. By this act, one shares that breath with the world and the world shares breath with you (The Institute for Applied Meditation, Inc.,2004). Your body also is made...
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