Meditation Practices Around the World

Find Your Zen

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Meditation, the spiritual practice of relaxing your mind and body, was introduced via Buddhism around 500 B.C.  However, as this religion gained popularity and spread from master to master, different techniques and approaches were added to Buddha’s original methods. Similar to Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism also place an emphasis on the importance of meditation. Although all of these religions encourage their followers to meditate, the ways in which the process is carried out are very different.  

 

Buddhism: This set of methods was established by Siddhartha Guatama, later known as The Buddha. Largely believed to be one of the most iconic meditation scholars, he created a type of meditation called vipassana. This technique involves a combination of mindfulness, concentration, tranquility and insight. Participants practice self-transformation through self-observation in order to liberate themselves of any mental impurities.  Through this form, they are taught to see the true nature of reality.  Buddhist meditation also seeks to prevent duality, as their mind and body should be a single entity. By incorporating the techniques of vipassana, one may achieve Nirvana, the ultimate goal of Buddhism.

 

Judaism: While many have not heard of Jewish meditation, it is highly valued as a partner process to the facets of Judaism.  Unlike in Buddhism, this practice does not promise an end, or a Nirvana, it is simply intended to deepen the meaning of the religion’s teachings.  Jewish meditation helps followers to transform Judaism from a solely intellectual practice into a spiritual one.  While Jewish prayer is mainly a personal, isolated experience, meditation can be a communal activity carried out in groups to foster a greater sense of support and awareness.

 

Hinduism: Dhanya is the meditation practiced in Hinduism.  This is a Sanskrit word which roughly translates to “the movement of the mind.” The goal behind Dhanya, or the meditation practiced in Hinduism, is to become more conscious of oneself and form a greater understanding of the connection between the mind and body. Dissimilar to Judaism, Dhanya is not intended to foster a greater understanding of the scripture but your inner self. This meditative practice focuses upon breath control and mental focus. It encourages followers to withdraw themselves from the distractions of the outer world and concentrate upon a single object. This isolated contemplation unites the mind and body, and allows for the development of thoughts without the influence of individual will.  

 

Regardless of the differences between these meditation practices, the methods are all similar in that they require a certain dedication from the individual.  Whether they are seeking a greater understanding of the facets of their religion, or a deeper connection to their inner being, meditation is a practice intended to foster a more conscious and aware individual.  No two meditative technique is the same, so be selective in choosing a method that appeals to you and your spiritual goals.  Whether your personal philosophy aligns with the empowering ideals of Hinduism or the prayer-enhancing techniques of Judaism, incorporating meditation into your life will foster a healthier relationship between your mind, body and soul.

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