Meditation has become quite a trend these days; from new age spiritualists to neurosurgeons, it seems everybody wants a piece of this ancient practice. A simple Google search for ‘how to meditate’ turns up over 290,000,000 results in less than a second, bookstores are filled with numerous volumes on how to create the perfect practice and a variety of professional and self-help programs teach meditation as a key component for health and wellbeing.
But, what is it exactly?
The word meditation comes from the Latin root medicus which means “to cure” and is also the root we derive the words medicine and medication from. Both meditation and medication seek to restore balance to the body and mind, ease ailments and allow us to live full, productive lives, but only one can be tailored exactly to our specific, individual desires.
While meditation is often thought by many to have its roots in the East, particularly India and China, these are only two places where this ancient practice has been used. Civilisations from all over the world, from Western Europe to the Americas, have practiced what would now be described under the umbrella of meditation for thousands of years, and it is an integral part of indigenous cultures the world over. It is one of those things that tends to resist a dictionary-style definition, given there are so many (over 1000!) different styles of meditation and each experience is unique to the individual.
The Meditation Association of Australia (MAA) and the Gawler Foundation developed the following definition, which acknowledges the breadth of meditation and gives those wishing to understand it simple terminology with which to do so.
“In its simplest and most general sense meditation is a mental discipline involving attention regulation. More specifically, the broad act of meditation can be sub-classified according to the processes it involves or the outcome it leads to.”
So whether we meditate to soothe our nerves or give ourselves some much deserved down time, the practice is no less meditative. Meditation can be energising, relaxing and many things in between; most importantly it is unique to every person. So if you’re wanting to bring a meditation practice into your life, instead of Googling ‘how to meditate’ and sifting through those 290,000,000 results, research the types of meditation and find the one the sounds right for you. Try out a variety of styles or find a local meditation group in your area to explore. After all, if the world’s your oyster, meditation might be that pearl you’ve been searching for.
Article by J. Byers