From East to West:
Two Worlds Sharing in the Universal Benefits of Meditation
When an individual makes the effort to train his or her mind as an end in itself or as a means to an end, this person engages in some form of meditation. A person is also engaged in this practice when he or she concentrates the mind and takes it to the next level. Meditation encompasses many different methods, which involve the induction of a mode of consciousness.
A variety of practices
The word “meditation” is a general term that has different meanings depending on the context. It is also different in so many ways depending on its origin. Although this is the case, the end goal is the same. The practice of meditation involves an internal effort by a person to regulate his mind and emotion based on religious tenets of established traditions.
Meditation connotes a broad spectrum of practices. Some meditation techniques are designed primarily to de-stress and promote relaxation. Others forms are specifically performed in order for the practitioner to develop qualities such as patience, compassion, and generosity. There are also forms of meditation designed to build life force of energy. Another form of meditation seeks to sustain a level of concentration that develops a sense of well-being so formidable that the person effortlessly functions with this kind of focus in everyday life. Meditation is also being used to cure specific disease and problems related to health.
From East to West
The first meditative tradition to be introduced to Western cultures and practiced by the masses is TM or transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation has been the subject of scientific inquiry in more than 20 countries in the effort to determine the mechanisms behind the benefits of practicing the method. About 50 studies revealed that the same physiologic responses that lead to body relaxation are produced in transcendental meditation.
The Indian spiritual teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced the practice of transcendental meditation to Western cultures. Because of his pioneering work, millions of people have already received training. From a solely religious practice in ancient Eastern cultures, people like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi serve as a bridge between East and West. Now, millions of people are experiencing the many health benefits of practicing secular meditative practices such as transcendental meditation.
Benefits of meditation in daily living
Another popular form of meditation, Zen meditation used to be the sole province of monastic monks hidden in mountain retreats. Today, ordinary men and women can benefit not only from performing the activity of meditation itself, but also from following the teachings that serve as foundations for the approach. For instance, mind-sitting can be practiced by anyone in situations of daily living. Mind-sitting is an essential element of Zen meditation, and simplified, it is about “not moving” in every situation, no matter how routine or mundane. This gives rise to the “correct function,” “correct situation” and “correct relationship” by exercising great compassion and love.
The benefits of meditation go beyond achieving relaxation, mental acuity, and peace of mind. Sufferers of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression benefit from the stillness and clarity that meditation brings forth. It is often recommended by doctors who specialize in disease. There are also physiologic effects associated with meditation, which extends its benefits to physical health. For example, practitioners of the different types of meditative practices report an improvement in cardiovascular function brought about by a lowering of their baseline blood pressure even without the use of prescription medication. It is good to note that some people practice meditation as a form of a hobby. It is part of their everyday health lifestyle. It is common to see classes being offered.