Definition - Meditation

Meditation : Meditation is used here as a broad term for practices done by a sole practitioner without much, if any, external aide, often for the purpose of self-transformation. Often, though not at all necessarily, meditation is done as part of a religious tradition.

Meditation : Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth.

Meditation : Ways to meditate can include:

Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.

Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts. Transcendental meditation is a type of mantra meditation in which you achieve a deep state of relaxation to achieve pure awareness.

Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgment.

Qi gong. This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (chee-kung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.

Tai chi. This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE-chee), you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.

Yoga. You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you're encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.

Meditation : Meditation usually refers to a state of extreme relaxation and concentration, in which the body is generally at rest and the mind quieted of surface thoughts. Several major religions include ritual meditation; however, meditation itself need not be a religious or spiritual activity. Most of the more popular systems of meditation are of Eastern origin. Another form of meditation is more closely akin to prayer and worship, wherein the practitioner turns spiritual thoughts over in the mind and engages the brain in higher thinking processes. The goal in this case is the receipt of spiritual insights and new understanding. From the point of view of psychology, meditation caninduce — or is itself — an altered state of consciousness.

Meditation : Meditation can be considered a technique, or practice. It usually involves concentrating on an object, such as a flower, a candle, a sound or word, or the breath. Over time, the number of random thoughts diminishes. More importantly, your attachment to these thoughts, and your identification with them, progressively become less.

Meditation : any of various disciplines of mind and body that enable one to achieve higher states of consciousness; it is a tool for self-improvement, creative renewal and spiritual growth.

Meditation : The practice of inverting the mind to pay attention to the inner silence instead of the outer chaos. Other forms of meditation focus on the outer chaos instead. The practice of meditation is accepted in almost all religions, but is encouraged most in Buddhism.

Definition and Types of Meditation
Meditation has been characterized in many ways in the scientific literature and there is no consensus definition of meditation. This diversity in definitions reflects the complex nature of the practice of meditation and the coexistence of a variety of perspectives that have been adopted to describe and explain the characteristics of the practice. Therefore, we recognize that any single definition limits the practice artificially and fails to account for important nuances that distinguish one type of meditation from another. 8 .
Cardoso et al. 9 developed a detailed operational definition of meditation broad enough to include traditional belief-based practices and those that have been developed specifically for use in clinical settings. Using a systematic approach based on consensus techniques, they defined any practice as meditation if it (1) utilizes a specific and clearly defined technique, (2) involves muscle relaxation somewhere during the process, (3) involves logic relaxation (i.e., not “to intend” to analyze the possible psychophysical effects, not “to intend” to judge the possible results, not “to intend” to create any type of expectation regarding the process), (4) a selfinduced state, and (5) the use of a self-focus skill or “anchor” for attention. From a cognitive and psychological perspective, Walsh et al. 10 defined meditation as a family of self-regulation practices that aim to bring mental processes under voluntary control through focusing attention and awareness. Other behavioral descriptions emphasize certain components such as relaxation, concentration, an altered state of awareness, suspension of logical thought processes, and maintenance of self-observing attitude.11 From a more general perspective, Manocha 12 describedmeditation as a discrete and well-defined experience of a state of “thoughtless awareness” or mental silence, in which the activity of the mind is minimized without reducing the level of alertness. Meditation also has been defined as a self-experience and self-realization exercise.13

Despite the lack of consensus in the scientific literature on a definition of meditation, most investigators would agree that meditation implies a form of mental training that requires either stilling or emptying the mind, and that has as its goal a state of “detached observation” in which practitioners are aware of their environment, but do not become involved in thinking about it. All types of meditation practices seem to be based on the concept of self-observation of immediate psychic activity, training one’s level of awareness, and cultivating an attitude of acceptance of process rather than content.3

Meditation is an umbrella term that encompasses a family of practices that share some distinctive features, but that vary in important ways in their purpose and practice. This lack of specificity of the concept of meditation precludes developing an exhaustive taxonomy of meditation practices. However, in order to systematically address the question of the state of research of meditation practices in healthcare, we must attempt to identify the components that are common to the many practices that are claimed to be meditation or that incorporate a meditative component, and also clearly distinguish meditation practices from other therapeutic and self-regulation strategies such as self-hypnosis or visualization and from other relaxation techniques that do not contain a meditative component.

Meditation practices may be classified according to certain phenomenological characteristics: the primary goal of practice (therapeutic or spiritual), the direction of the attention (mindfulness, concentrative, and practices that shift between the field or background perception and experience and an object within the field 3,14), the kind of anchor employed (a word, breath, sound, object or sensation 7,15,16), and according to the posture used (motionless sitting or moving).7 Like other complex and multifaceted therapeutic interventions, meditation practices involve a mixture of specific and vaguely defined characteristics, and they can be practiced on their own or in conjunction with other therapies. As pointed out by many authors, any attempt to create a taxonomy of meditation only approximates the multidimensional experience of the practices.17

3. Perez de Albeniz A, Holmes J. Meditation:concepts, effects and uses in therapy. Int JPsychother 2000;5(1):49-58.

4. Pollard I. Meditation and brain function: a review. Eubios J Asian Int Bioethics 2004;14:28-34.

7. Baer RA. Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: a conceptual and empirical review. Clin Psychol: Sci Pract 2003;10(2):125-43.

8. Andresen J. Meditation meets behavioural medicine: the story of experimental research on meditation. J Consciousness Stud 2000;7(11- 12):17-73.

9. Cardoso R, De Souza E, Camano L, et al. Meditation in health: an operational definition. Brain Res Brain Res Protoc 2004;14(1):58-60.

10. Walsh R, Shapiro SL. The meeting of meditative disciplines and Western psychology: a mutually enriching dialogue. Am Psychol 2006;61(3):227-39.

11. Craven JL. Meditation and psychotherapy. Can J Psychiatry 1989;34(7):648-53.

12. Manocha R. Why meditation? Aust Fam Physician 2000;29(12):1135-8.

13. Kokoszka A. Axiological aspects of comparing psychotherapy and meditation. Int J Psychosom 1990;37(1-4):78-81.

14. Delmonte MM. Meditation and anxiety reduction: a literature review. Clin Psychol Rev 1985;5(2):91-102. 15. Rutschman JR. Effects of techniques of receptive meditation and relaxation on attentional processing. Can Undergraduate J Cogn Sci 2004;7:6-16.

16. Bonadonna R. Meditation's impact on chronic illness. Holist Nurs Pract 2003;

17(6):309-19. 17. Caspi O, Burleson KO. Methodological challenges in meditation research. Adv Mind Body Med 2005;21(1):4-11.

Ospina MB, Bond TK, Karkhaneh M, Tjosvold L, Vandermeer B, Liang Y, Bialy L, Hooton N, Buscemi N, Dryden DM, Klassen TP. Meditation Practices for Health: State of the Research. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 155. (Prepared by the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practie Center under Contract No. 290-02-0023.) AHRQ Publication No. 07-E010. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. June 2007.
Perez-De-Albeniz, Alberto & Holmes, Jeremy. (2000). Meditation: Concepts, effects and uses in therapy. International Journal of Psychotherapy, March 2000, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p49, 10p. [Texte complet]

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