In order to contrast the traditional Eastern ideas of meditation with ideas that are currently prevalent in Western culture, it is useful to examine popular, broadly consensual definitions of meditation as an insight into how the modern Western consumer has come to conceptualise it. Both basic and advanced Google searches were conducted using “meditation” and “definition” and “definition of meditation” as search terms.

An informal content analysis was performed to identify key terms and ideas. The two most common definitions of meditation are as a mental exercise that involves either “contemplation” or “continuous thinking” while the third most common definition is as an exercise involving focused attention.

The more specific notion that it involves control of the mind is considerably less widespread, despite the fact that these factors are repeatedly mentioned in traditional Indian texts. Interestingly, the more specific notion of reducing thinking activity appears to be little known, while the key notion of mental silence was mentioned only once.

Find more information about the Eastern and Western perspectives of meditation at Ramesh Manocha’s blog.

Both basic and advanced Google searches were conducted using “meditation” and “definition” and “definition of meditation” as search terms.

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Practitioners of sahaja yoga meditaiton (SYM) consistently report that the state of mental silence is characteristically associated with other subjective phenomena such as a natural focusing of attention and a sense of wellbeing which somehow leads to improved physical health. A number of SYM practitioners do describe occasional transcendent experiences, with concomitant benefits to physical and mental health, that in many ways reflect traditional descriptions of mystical experiences and states such as Sahaja yogic tradition, as well as modern SYM practitioners ascribe these experiences to a unique, spontaneous and more or less involuntary psycho-physiological process that occurs during meditation. The process is said to involve a system of yogic energy centres (chakras), interconnecting channels (nadis) and activating energy (kundalini). Modern proponents of the yogic tradition put this “psychic anatomy” forward as a kind of psychosomatic theory of health.

Ramesh Manocha.

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Traditional meditation texts often warn of the potential negative effects of meditation. These can arise as a result of incorrect preparation, instruction, practice or supervision. Traditionally speaking, misconceptions about the ultimate goals of meditation have often led to unfortunate consequences.

Dr Ramesh Manocha further discusses the historical descriptions of the adverse effects that can arise from meditation at his blog.

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