Throughout history, meditation has been an integral part of many cultures. Records indicate that meditation was practiced in ancient Greece and India more than 5,000 years ago. In the Buddhist religion, meditation is an important part of their spiritual practice. Different forms of meditation are practiced in China and Japan, and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have traditions similar to meditation. The word meditation comes from the Latin meditari which means: exercise, turn something over in one’s mind, think, consider. It is defined as consciously directing your attention to alter your state of mind.
Meditation is one of the proven alternative therapies that in recent years have been classified under mind-body medicine therapies. It is continuing to gain popularity, as more and more health experts believe that there is more to the connection between mind and body than modern medicine can explain. According to researchers, meditation has been shown to aid the immune system and improve brain activity. More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way to lower blood pressure, to improve exercise performance, to help people with asthma to breathe easier, to relieve insomnia, and generally relax everyday stresses of life. Many hospitals now offer meditation classes for their patients because of the health benefits. All promote physiological health and well-being.
Traditionally, meditation has been used for spiritual growth, but more recently has become a valuable tool for managing stress and finding a place of peace, relaxation, and tranquility in a demanding fast-paced world. Benefits resulting from meditation include: physical and emotional healing; easing stress, fear, and grief; improved breathing; developing intuition; deep relaxation; exploring higher realities; finding inner guidance; unlocking creativity; manifesting change; emotional cleansing and balancing; and deepening concentration and insight.
Meditation elicits many descriptive terms: stillness, silence, tranquility, peace, quiet, and calm. All counter stress and tension. Lama Surya Das in his book Awakening The Buddha Within says, Meditation is not just something to do; it’s a method of being and seeing an unconditional way of living moment by moment. In other words, learning to live in this moment because this moment is all we have. Henry Winkler is quoted as saying; A human being’s first responsibility is to shake hands with herself. Meditation is an opportunity to shake hands with ourselves in a safe, simple way and to balance our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.