What is spiritual meditation? How does it differ from other kinds of meditation? Let’s look at some ways to clarify it.
There’s confusion about these two terms. As it happens, these words are overused and misused in our everyday language. The technical name for the overuse of terms is semantic satiation. Words lose their intrinsic meaning because of repetition or overuse. Words also lose their meaning because of misuse.
Distorting the original meaning of words happens a lot in the realm of spirituality. People interject a range of different definitions into these words. Let’s define the terms and how we use them. It will at least clarify what we mean.
What is Spiritual Meditation?
To be sure, the terms spiritual and spirituality relate to all matters concerning the spirit and the soul. Therefore, you can associate almost anything with spiritual significance. For example, eating spicy food can be a spiritual experience for some.
Second, the word spiritual has a broad scope of meaning, and people often relate the term spiritual to religion. There’s a lot of social conditioning to equate religious teaching, ceremony, and tradition with being spiritual. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Many people think organized religions are counterfeits for an authentic spiritual path. These people contend the spiritual path has nothing to do with religion. Therefore, being spiritual means your actions exhibit the spirit’s higher virtues. It’s not what you believe but what you do with your life that counts.
The term meditation is a little easier to define. Most people identify meditation as something you do with your eyes closed while sitting. Most people are familiar with seated forms of meditation, but there are also forms of moving meditation. For instance, Forest Bathing, Qigong, and Tai Chi are all methods you use while standing.
Similarly, almost any mental process for changing or altering consciousness can become a meditation form. Likewise, since all forms of meditation involve our consciousness, they are also spiritual.
Spiritual Meditation Is Not Religion
The mind is like a computer in some ways. Suppose you shut off your computer and stop the processes. Then, when you turn it back on, it works better. Unplugging your mind works the same way. Meditation helps us shut off our internal dialogue.
The proper type of meditation brings us in touch with the transcendent. We recommend Japa or the commercial version of this technique, Transcendental Meditation (TM). We put together an article that outlines the benefits of meditation.
Seated meditation is the heart of this practice. For instance, after practicing meditation, we can think more clearly. Many of these methods are good for our heart by reducing stress.
Moving forms of meditation are also beneficial for increasing mind-body coordination and improving our physical durability. The mind, body, and spirit share an intimate connection. So, when it makes sense to engage in things that will enhance our whole being.
We use the word spiritual meditation with any process that shifts awareness or creates an altered state of consciousness. That’s because these processes connect us with our Soul, Spirit, or the Observer of our consciousness. In short, it’s all about exploring consciousness.
The early pioneers of these mental processes used spiritual language to describe these methods. The terms spirit and soul are synonymous with awareness and consciousness. So, it is practical to keep the teachings intact using the original terminology. Second, it honors the origins of the knowledge, keeping the language and cultural context intact. After all, there is no need to change what already works. There is no need to modernize. Third, most noteworthy, many of these processes lead to a “eureka” awakening experience.
So, the bottom line for us, Spiritual Meditation, refers to methods of exploring consciousness. It includes many kinds of seated and moving meditation and several analytical and mystical processes. We have many choices, everything from a simple two-step beginning meditation to the practice of the Siddhis of Patanjali.
The analytical processes include the Enneagram of Personality, Comparative Analysis, and several analytical tools. It has several spiritual technologies and techniques but excludes religious dogma when you define it in this way.
“One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach the ultimate realization of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don’t leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind.” ― Osho
How Religion and Spiritual Exploration Differ
Everyone has their way of awakening through the use of ancient technologies. These tools are the basis for spiritual exploration. It’s most important to understand that spiritual exploration is at the opposite end of the spectrum from organized religion.
Religion is dogma concerned with who might have created the universe, what may happen after you die and integrity rules for governing behavior. They wrap it in fear of eternal punishment for those that disagree.
“Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love.” ― Bill Hicks
Whereas, Spiritual exploration has nothing to do with doctrine or dogma. It involves applying spiritual tools/technologies to expand awareness and open the doors of consciousness. These spiritual technologies stand up to the test of science as having repeatable common experiential phenomena.
So, when organized religion uses the term “spiritual meditation,” to make “prayer” sound spiritual. It’s how religion rebrands prayer to make it seem beneficial. Prayer is appealing to an imaginary friend to intercede in our daily affairs. This is not spiritual, it is nonsense.
But, the whole concept of prayer is illogical. If your god is omniscient and all-powerful, they have ordained things to happen, and your asking for change is irrelevant. If you have to pray more or harder to get something your God has already decreed, it means your god is playing mind games.
Nevertheless, this is one way organized religion uses the term spiritual meditation to justify prayer.
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” ― Epicurus (2)
The catalog of ancient methods for exploring consciousness is what we call spiritual technologies. They are a collection of processes to develop the potential of the mind, body, and spirit. They offer us ways to expand awareness and reach higher states of consciousness.
These tools differ significantly from religion. They do not require faith or belief in any religious doctrine. Anyone can use these processes to develop their full potential. All you need to do is follow the process, and it’s just like following the recipe for baking a cake. If you combine the right ingredients in the right way and you get something delicious.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our blended learning method. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. They are repeatable processes, and several produce measurable effects on our physiology. These changes include increased brainwave coherence, lower heart rate, and increased skin resistance. Changes like this prove these partitions of consciousness differ significantly from waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
We divide these tools into four major categories:
Everyone can use these methods to create their unique spiritual path, and you can start with any of these methods. The more of them you use, the faster your progress.
It’s also important to realize that it has nothing to do with belief in imaginary beings. It is not the practice of religion. Some ancient Eastern traditions are the storehouses of many of the tools for this inner work. However, you don’t need to follow a religion to use these methods.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
(2) Epicurus, Wikipedia