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.