A lot of people falsely assume that meditation and religion are a package deal. While it’s true that meditation can be used as a religious practice, meditation can still be used on its own in a secular fashion for health, sustainability and wellness. Meditation has deep roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, which is why so many view it as a religious practice, but in the west it is mainly secularists, health care practitioners, and “spiritual” types who are embracing it.
What Does “Spiritual” Actually Mean?
You may have noticed that a lot of people these days prefer to call themselves “spiritual” rather than religious. In fact, even prominent atheists and scientists have used the word “spiritual” to describe themselves and their views on reality. So, what does it actually mean to be “spiritual?”
Well, the truth is, it can mean a lot of different things. For some people, it means they believe they have a soul, or exist in some other type of eternal way. For others, it simply means they believe there is something bigger than them; some larger force behind the nature of being that is beyond comprehension.
Perhaps most importantly, though, spirituality differs from religion in that you do not have to obey any rules, belong to any institution, or pray to any god in order to be, or feel, spiritual. So, while you may hear many people who practice meditation use the word “spiritual,” by no means are they conflating it with religion – at least, not in every case.
What Is Meditation, Exactly?
Merriam Webster defines “meditate” as follows:
1: To engage in contemplation or reflection
2: To engage in mental exercise (as concentration or one’s breathing or repetition of mantra) for the purpose of reaching a higher level of spiritual awareness
Those definitions are exactly right! Meditating is really nothing more than exercising your mind. However, I would add that for what purpose you are exercising your mind is entirely up to you! Typically, as Merriam Webster put it, people meditate for the purpose of reaching a higher level of spirituality, or self-awareness, but you can practice meditation for any reason(s) you like.
In closing, meditation is not rigid; it is flexible. Whether you are religious or nonreligious, you can find a meditation routine that works for you.
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