Monday, August 13, 2007

Purposes and Effects of Meditation.

The purposes for which people meditate vary almost as widely as practices. Meditation may serve simply as a means of relaxation from a busy daily routine; as a technique for cultivating mental discipline; or as a means of gaining insight into the nature of reality, or of communing with one's God. Many report improved concentration, awareness, self-discipline and equanimity through meditation.

Many authorities avoid emphasizing the effects of meditation — sometimes out of modesty, sometimes for fear that the expectation of results might interfere with one's meditation. For theists, the effects of meditation are considered a gift of God or from the Holy Spirit/Ghost, and not something that is "achieved" by the meditator alone, just as some say that a person will not convert to Christianity without the influence of the Holy Spirit/Ghost's presence.

Commonly reported results from meditation include:

1. Greater faith in, or understanding of, one's religion or beliefs .

2. An increase in patience, compassion, and other virtues and morals or the understanding of


3. Feelings of calm or peace, and/or moments of great joy .

4. Consciousness of sin, temptation, and remorse, and a spirit of contrition.

5. Sensitivity to certain forms of lighting, such as fluorescent lights or computer screens, and

sometimes heightened sense-perception.

6. Surfacing of buried memories.

7. Experience of spiritual phenomena such as kundalini, extra-sensory perception, or visions of

deities, saints, demons, etc.

Some traditions acknowledge that many types of experiences and effects are possible, but instruct the meditator to keep in mind the spiritual purpose of the meditation, and not be distracted by lesser concerns. For example, Mahayana Buddhists are urged to meditate for the sake of "full and perfect enlightenment for all sentient beings" (the bodhisattva vow). Some, as in certain sects of Christianity, say that these things are possible, but are only to be supported if they are to the glory of God.

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