Various forms of meditation have been practiced for thousands of years in many religions and spiritual traditions. More recently, it has been incorporated into Mind-Body Medicine and other healing arts in a non-religious form.
Typically, meditation involves the regular (usually once or twice a day) practice of a set of directions for focusing and training the attention (Selective Awareness) and expanding self-awareness. It tends to result in the practitioner’s reaching a state of consciousness characterized by expanded awareness, an enhanced sense of presence in the here and now, and a sense of self that is more whole and invigorated.
In traditional practices, the goal of meditation is a transcendence of the sense of separateness (of the individual self) to experience a kind of integration into a larger, higher sense of Self – a quality oneness with all being. Sometimes there’s an object of meditation—such as a sound, a candle or positions of the body (hatha yoga); sometimes the focus is on emptiness (zen). Pretty closely related to and perhaps could be included in the definition of meditation—visualization, certain kinds of prayer, contemplation, affirmations, self-hypnosis, focusing (Gendlin), biofeedback.
In Mind-Body Medicine, the meditative state is quickly accessed by a kind of induction, a series of guided images that lead to relaxation and presence. This state is used to relieve stress, to manage stress on an ongoing basis, and to open the deeper mind and the body to direct communication (suggestion).
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