Today begins our series on meditation. Before we get into the different types of meditation let’s take some time to discover WHERE meditation comes from and how it is changing in today’s application via the post industrial Western interpretation. As someone who learned traditional Yoga alongside Buddhist and Jewish meditation over twenty five years ago I can tell you it has changed within our culture.
The earliest (according to what I was taught) mention of meditation, or Dhyana, is mentioned in the Vedic Hindu texts. This practice of contemplation and meditation are incorporated in Yoga. Yoga, friends, is the oldest recorded meditation system in the world. What is Yoga? The word Yoga literally means “Unity”. We can understand Dhyana Yoga, or meditative yoga, as a spiritual practice to bring the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual body into Unity with the Creator. (Aside note: Hinduism is not polytheistic, but Henotheistic. In short they worship different aspects of the creator God individually).
When moving into the Jewish world, meditation was practiced by the three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The three daily services are each attributed to one of the founding fathers and reflects each man’s meditative styles and how they reached into experiencing Oneness with the Divine. Judaism is the world’s second oldest religion by the way.
As we can see, the earliest roots of meditation are within religious structures. I think the practice predates religion, and is the earliest form of man reaching out beyond himself to connect with a higher purpose than survival. In short, meditation is the listening component of prayer where we cease to engage in the individual ego and instead surrender to the Divine. More on that below.
Meditation in Current Western Culture
According to modern thought meditation is a “habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts” (Thorpe, Matthew, PhD, MD, July 5, 2017). This definition views meditation as a habit of thinking instead of a practice that engages the whole person.
In addition, we in the West think of meditation as a form of mindfulness practice. We meditate by engaging in body scans, noticing the breath, engaging in relaxation of the muscles, listening to the sounds around us. That is mindfulness, or being in the present moment. It is a powerful tool. However, it is a practice leading into meditation, not meditation itself.
I have a few issues with the Western definition of meditation. So, here we go into the details of Eastern Oneness vs Western Rationalism.
What is Meditation REALLY?
Let’s get on the same page about a few ideas.
Meditation did not come from a philosophy that a person is a mind with a body and emotions. Meditation comes from a philosophy that you are more than the awareness behind the mind, emotions, and body. You are the consciousness that controls where the awareness is concentrated at any one moment. In short, you are a spiritual, trans dimensional being. Many refer to this as being a soul or having a spirit.
This concept flies in the face of the modern definition of meditation. Modern Western meditation sees the practice as a simple mental exercise. It misses the central truth. Meditation is not an action. Meditation is the result of actions.
When we quiet the mind, the body, and the emotions, we begin observing all without attachment. From there we open spiritually to the Creator’s truth and to a greater Consciousness. It is in this place of silence, that we for a moment experience the Oneness with each other, with the life energy on this planet, with the dust in space, and everything else. We often call this God, Universe, Life Force, Creator, Source, and a hundred other names depending on our background. I try not label this too much. I just call itDivine, Oneness, Light, Truth, HaShem.
Meditation in our Western world has been diluted down into a mental exercise to help us maintain the illusion of control. However, the truth is that meditation is a deeply spiritual practice intended to draw us into Unity with the Light and Truth of the Divine. Meditation is creating the opportunity, the right conditions to humbly connect with the Eternal and allowing that connection to change you in every way.
Until next time,
Be Well and In Peace,