By Prammit Saran
Meditation can be defined as a practice where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
Meditation has been practiced since antiquity in numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Since the 19th century, it has spread from its origins to other cultures where it is commonly practiced in private and business life.
Meditation may be used with the aim of reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perception and well being. Meditation is under research to define its possible health (psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular) and other effects.
A 2009 study of views common to seven experts trained in diverse but empirically highly studied (clinical or Eastern-derived) forms of meditation identified “three main criteria… as essential to any meditation practice: the use of a defined technique, logic relaxation, and a self-induced state/mode. Other criteria deemed important [but not essential] involve a state of psycho physical relaxation, the use of a self-focus skill or anchor, the presence of a state of suspension of logical thought processes, a religious/spiritual/philosophical context, or a state of mental silence.”:135 However, the study cautioned, “It is plausible that meditation is best thought of as a natural category of techniques best captured by ‘family resemblances’… or by the related ‘prototype’ model of concepts.