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.
Different Types of Meditation Methods
There are several different kinds of meditation, but that doesn’t make one more spiritual than any other. Attaching the moniker “spiritual” differentiates a product; it does not change the practice. Let’s look at why you’d want to use the term spiritual for your product.
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.
So, What is Spiritual Meditation?
Let’s break down the terms spiritual and 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. However, this isn’t usually the case. For example, western organized religions expend a great deal of effort through social conditioning to equate their religious dogma, ceremony, and tradition with being spiritual. Most of their doctrines are tactics to sell membership in their religion. These tactics include health of sale, the afterlife, and prosperity. They sell it all for a price.
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.
All Meditation Is Spiritual
As you might suspect, forms of meditation that shift consciousness or awareness, no matter what you call it, are the same. Meditation is the focal point of spiritual practice for many people. So, all meditation is spiritual.
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.
When asked what is spiritual meditation? Our answer is any meditative 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, 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
When asked is prayer the same as meditation? Our answer is no. Prayer is asking an imaginary entity to intervene on your behalf. Prayer is a tool of organized religion which is dogma concerned with who might have created the universe, what may happen after you die, and integrity rules 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
So, if you ask someone in the Abrahamic religion, what is spiritual meditation they will likely describe sitting in prayer. Organized religion uses the term to describe “prayer.” It’s how religion rebrands prayer to make it seem beneficial. But, appealing to an imaginary friend to intercede in our daily affairs is not spiritual; it is nonsense.
“Prayer is an act of the virtue of religion which consists in asking for proper gifts or graces from God. In a more general sense, it is the application of the mind to Divine things, not merely to acquire a knowledge of them but to make use of such knowledge as a means of union with God. This may be done by acts of thanksgiving, but the petition is the principal act of prayer.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907)
The idea of prayer is another part of the liturgical trappings assimilated into the new “Universal Religions” of the Abrahamic tree. The Catholics point to the practice’s origins in the Assyrian and Persian mystery religions of the Medditrainian region.
“Sacrifice among the Iranians or Persians—the kindred religion of the ancient Iranians centered, especially after its reform by Zoroaster, in the service of the true God Ormuzd or Ahura Mazda.
This religion promoted a life of purity, the conscientious fulfillment of all liturgical and moral precepts, and the positive renunciation of the Devias, Devils, and all demonical powers. It was essentially a religion of sacrifice in as much as, in the old Avesta, the sacred Scriptures of the Persians, the war between the good god Ormuzd and the Devil ended eschatologically with the complete victory of the good Deity. Sacrifice and prayer played an important role in paralyzing the diabolical machinations of Ahriman (the great adversary) and his demons.
The central feature of worship was of fire worship not dissimilar to the modern Mopeds in India, where priests carry portable altars.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 13 (1907).
The whole concept of prayer is illogical and based on self-hypnosis, not meditation.
If God exists, prayer is irrelevant. If God doesn’t exist, it’s still a waste of time. Here’s why. If your god is omniscient and all-powerful, they have ordained things to happen, and your asking for change is a waste of time. If you have to pray more or harder to get something your God has already decreed, it means your god is playing mind games. He wants you to beg.
“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)
What is spiritual meditation? We describe it as any meditative process that changes awareness. We are spiritual beings made of consciousness. Althought there a different types of meditation methods, prayer isn’t one of them. Meditation is a way of connecting with the source of thought. It has nothing to do with asking for favors from an imaginary friend.
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