What is Meditation ?


The word “Meditation” (Dhyana) is a very deep and historical, which is called in different name in different “Religions” with the knowledge of Historical records. ‘Meditation’ is in practice in numerous religious tradition. The earliest records of word “Meditation” (Dhyana) is found in the “Upanishads“. ‘Meditation’ play a conspicuous and prominent role in the contemplative repertoire of ‘Jainism’, ‘Buddhism’, ‘Hinduism’. Since the 19th century, Asian Meditative techniques have spread to other cultures. Where they have also found application in non-spiritual context like as health and business.

what is meditation

”  ‘Meditation’ (Dhyana) is custom in which specific uses a technique – such as centralize or attract the mind on a particular things, thought or activity- to level ‘concentration’ and  ‘realization’, and reach a mentally intelligible and emotionally calm and immovable state.”

Meditation may notably reduce pain, stress, depression and anxiety and enhance peace, perception, self observation and well- being. Research also understands the ‘worldly goodness of meditation’ on health (psychological, neurological and cardiovascular) and in other areas.

(a) Etymology

The term meditation was introduce as a means for eastern spiritual customs, referred  to ‘Dhyana’ in ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Buddhism’ and which comes from ‘Sanskrit’ genesis ‘Dhyai’, meaning to contemplate or meditate. The term “meditation” in English may also mention to practices. From Islamic ‘Sufism’ or other tradition like as Jewism  ‘Kabbalah’ and Christian ‘Hesychasm’.


The English meditation is derived from ‘Old French Meditacioun’, in term from ‘Latin  meditatio from a verb ‘meditari’, meaning ” to think, ponder”. In the Catholic tradition the term ‘meditatio’, stepwise process of meditation goes back to at least the 12th century monk ‘Guigo II’ before which the Greek word ‘Theoria’ was used for same purpose.

(b) Definition

The term ‘Meditation” difficult in defining because no any universally accepted definition. Its cover a wide range of dissimilar practices in different traditions. In 1971, ‘Claudio Naranjo’ pre-eminent that “The word ‘Meditation’ has been used to designate a variety of practices that differ enough from one another so that we may find trouble in defining what meditation is.” A 2009 study pre-eminent that “persistent lack of consensus in the literature” and a ” seeming intractability of defining meditation”. So

(i) According to dictionary :-

Dictionary define both original Latin meaning and popular uses. Latin meaning of “think or thinking deeply about (something)”. Popular usage of “the act of giving your attention to only one thing either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed”, “to engage in mental exercise (such as concentrating on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for a purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness” and “focusing one’s mind for a period of time”.

(ii) According to Scholar :-

In modern psychological research, meditation has been defined and characterized in various ways.

1890 (William James) states that “Attention is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or train of thought”.

1982 (Shapiro) states that “Meditation refers to a family of techniques which have in common a conscious attempt to focus attention in a nonanalytical way and an attempt not to dwell on discursive, ruminating thought”.

2009 (Bond et al) report that 7 expert scholars who had studied different traditions of meditation agreed that an “essential” component of meditation ” Involves logic relaxation: not ‘ to intend’  to create any type of expectation regarding the process”. In there final consideration, 7 experts regarded this feature as an “essential” component of meditation; none of them regarded it as merely “important but not essential”.

1988 (Goleman) states that “The need for the meditator to retrain his attention, whether through concentration or mindfulness, is the single invariant  ingredient in……… every meditation system”.

1992 (Jevning et al) states that “We define meditation.. as a stylized mental technique… repetitively practiced for the purpose of attaining a subjective experience that is frequently described as very restful, silent, and of heightened alertness, often characterized as blissful.”

2006 (Cahn & Polich) States that “Meditation is used to describe practices that self-regulate the body and mind, thereby affecting mental events by engaging a specific attentional set… regulation of attention is the central commonality across the many divergent methods”.

Classification of meditation:-

Meditation classified by focus and open methods and others possible typology.

Focused and open methods:-

In the West, meditation have often been classified in two broad categories; focused (or concentrative) meditation and open monitoring (or mindfulness) meditation.

A Practitioner can focus intensively on one particular object (so-called concentrative meditation), on all mental events that enter the field of awareness (so-called mindfulness meditation), or both focal point and field of awareness.

Focused methods include ‘paying attention to the breathe’, to an idea or feeling (such as metta (loving-kindness)), to a Koan, or to a Mantra (such as in transcendental meditation), and single point meditation.

Open monitoring methods include mindfulness, shikantaza and other awareness states.

Other possible Typology:-

(a) Concentrative:- focused attention, including breathe meditation, transcendental meditation and visualization.

(b) Generative :- developing qualities like loving kindness and compassion.

(c) Receptive :- open monitoring.

(d) Reflective:- systematic investigation, contemplation.

The Buddhism tradition often divides meditative practice into ‘Samantha’ or calm abiding and ‘Vipassana’ insight.

Meditation Technique

(a) Posture :- We use different posture technique for meditation.

(b) Frequency :- We use frequency technique for meditation.

(c) Supporting aids:- We use some supporting aids like:- prayer beads, striking the meditator, using a narrative for meditation.

(a) Posture

Meditation is done by different body posture technique such as “Asanas”.

‘Asanas’ is the position of our body like full-lotus, Half-lotus, Burmese, Seiza, Kneeling are popular in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Other postures are like sitting, lying (Supine) and standing. Meditation also done when walking known as ‘Kinhin’ doing simple task known as ‘Samu’ or laying down, known as ‘Savasana’.

The ‘Yoga sutra of Patanjali’ define ‘asana’ as ” a position that is steady and comfortable”. 10th and 11th century and the 15th century ‘Hatha yoga Pradipika’ identfie 84  asanas.

(b) Frequency

‘Richard Davidson’  research saying benefits can be achieved with a practice of only 8 minutes per day. The ‘TM’ technique recommend 20 minutes twice a day. Some are less time or some much longer time advice also.

(c) Supporting aids

(i) Use of prayer beads:- Some religions have traditions of using ‘prayer beads’ as a tool in devotional meditation. The Hindu ‘japa mala’ has 108 beads , they use figure count also, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Hare krishna tradition, Jainism, Buddhism use prayer beads. Each beads counted once with ‘Mantra’. The Muslim ‘Misbaha’ has 99 beads. Christian ‘Rosaries’ consist pearls or beads link together with threads. Beads made from ‘Rudraksha’ sacred by devotees of ‘Shiva’ while followers of ‘Vishnu’ revere ‘Tulsi’ wood beads.

(ii) Striking the meditator :- The Buddhist literature has many stories of ‘Enlightenment’ being attained through disciples being struck by their masters. According to T. Griffith Foulk, the ‘encouragement stick’ was an integral pat of the Zen practice.

(iii) Using a narrative :- Richard Davidson and neuroscientist has expressed the view that having a narrative can help the maintenance of daily practice. For instance he himself ‘Prostrates’ to the teaching and meditation “not primarily for my benefit, but for the benefit of others”.