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. These words are overused and misused in our everyday language. The technical name for the overuse of terms is semantic satiation. Words lose their original meaning and value because they are used in various ways that create different meanings.
Different Types of Meditation Methods
There are several 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 in the arena of spirituality. People interject a range of different definitions into these words. So, we need to define the terms.
So, What is Spiritual Meditation?
Let’s break down the terms spiritual and meditation.
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. (1)
Second, the word spiritual has a broad meaning, and people often relate the term spiritual to religion. However, this isn’t usually the case. For example, western organized religions spend 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 the sale of health, the afterlife, and prosperity. They sell it all for a price.
Many people think organized religions are counterfeits of 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.
Many ancient cultures refer to the Observer of our awareness as the spirit or the soul. These words are synonymous with consciousness. They are all describing the same thing.
The term meditation is a little easier to define. Most people think of 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. Many different types of meditation methods can affect changes in awareness and consciousness. (2)
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 in Nature
So, all forms of meditation that affect a change in consciousness are spiritual in nature because we are “spiritual beings.” A change in consciousness or awareness is also a change in relation to the elements of ancient cultures called the spirit or soul.
Some religions try to distinguish theirs as superior to others by calling what they do “spiritual meditation.” It was a way of implying other forms of meditation are not spiritual, which isn’t true. If the process does affect change, it changes your reference to spirituality, which equals spiritual growth.
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). (3) We put together an article outlining meditation’s benefits.
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 hearts by reducing stress.
Moving forms of meditation are also beneficial for increasing mind-body coordination and improving physical durability. The mind, body, and spirit share an intimate connection. So, engaging 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 analytical and mystical processes. We have many choices, 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 if prayer is 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 probably 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 Mediterranean region’s Assyrian and Persian mystery religions.
“In the religion of the Medes and Persians, the cult of trees plays an important part, and with them, as with Assyrians, the symbol of eternal life was a tree with a stream at its roots. Another object of veneration was the sacred miracle tree, which within itself contained the seeds of all.” — Marie-Luise Gothein
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 (4)
What is spiritual meditation? We describe it as any meditative process that changes awareness. We are spiritual beings made of consciousness. There are several different meditation methods, but 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 tools for this inner work. However, you don’t need to follow a religion to use these methods.
There are several techniques available for practicing meditation. We suggest you investigate all the benefits of meditation and pick one that fits your needs. If you have other ideas or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
(1) Define Spiritual: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spiritual
(2) Define Meditation: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meditation
(3) Transcendental Meditation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_Meditation
(4) Epicurus, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurus