Meditation Within ALL the World’s Religions: Info and Resources
Since I recently did a post on meditation from a medical perspective, and one on the many different types of meditation, I thought I would round out the series with a post on spiritual and religious meditation. Many people associate meditation with Far Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, and don’t realize that there are also many forms of Judeo-Christian meditation, as well as meditations from other faiths. Below is an overview of meditation as it is generally viewed within each major religion, and links to resources with more info. By including these links I am NOT endorsing the teachers or authors associated with these sites (most of whom I don’t know) – just the information on the sites.
- In Buddhism, observing and stilling the mind are the key to recognizing the transience of all thoughts and emotions, opening the doorway to enlightened mind. Two good resources for learning more about Buddhist meditation are Buddhanet and WildMind.
- In Hinduism, meditating is the core practice for merging the mind with the energies operating beneath the physical world, through which the mind can ultimately merge with the source of these energies itself. Meditation is considered part of yoga practice – yoga means ‘union’ and meditation is considered the primary method for merging our awareness with the divine. Two good resources for learning more about yoga and Hindu meditation are the Sanatan Society and What is Yoga?
- In Kabbalah, often called Jewish mysticism, a form of meditation called ‘hitbonenut’, which involves contemplating a concept or light itself, is used to attain true, meta-intellectual knowledge. A good resource for learning about basic Kabbalastic meditation is LearnKabbalah. A good site for learning more about incorporating meditation into mainstream Jewish traditions is The Awakened Heart Project.
- Eastern Orthodox Christianity incorporates the ‘hesychasm’, or Jesus prayer, performed in a meditative, chanting fashion, in order to connect with the heart of faith. For some more info, go to The Jesus Prayer or Hesychasm.
- Roman Catholicism includes contemplative practices such as the rosary for lay people, and many silent contemplative practices for monastic initiates. St. Theresa of Avila was one of several Catholic mystics who wrote on the benefits of mental prayer. Here’s an interview with a former Trappist monk on the benefits of meditation for Christians, or you can learn more about Jesuit meditation as represented in the teachings of Ignatius Loyola.
- In Quaker meetings participants sit in silence, waiting for the ‘inner light’ to inspire someone to speak. Learn more about Quaker Silence or check out an essay by Mary Coelho, a modern Quaker and writer.
- The Sufis within Islam incorporate both energy center and devotional meditation to merge with the ‘beloved divine’ responsible for life itself. Sufism has many branches and corresponding meditation techniques, but most are centered on love meditations. Try this Sufi meditation of the heart, or check out this video meditation based on the famous Sufi poet Rumi.
- Taoism is the ancient Chinese mystic tradition and philosophy focused on balance and the interacting forces of yin/yang, passive/aggressive, masculine/feminine, and creating/receiving. Tai Chi is often considered a form of moving Taoist meditation. Sitting Taoist meditation focuses on similar themes of balance and flow.
- The Bahai faith, a relatively new religious tradition, founded in 19-century Persia, emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind and the common themes of all world religions. Learn more about the Bahai faith, or check out this information on meditation within the Bahai faith.
If you are interested in learning more about a particular spiritual tradition, check out this book list: Introduction to the World’s Spiritual Traditions. Or, for more books on meditation within different traditions, go to this booklist at my teaching site.
Of course nowadays, there are many other forms of meditation that are taught entirely outside of any religious context. I encourage you to trust your intuition and explore whatever form you are drawn to!