Meditation has been around for many centuries, and millions of people across the globe have enjoyed the many benefits that it has brought to them. It was first recorded in the Vedas, scriptures dating back to around 3000BC in India. Before that it is very likely that the knowledge of meditation was transmitted verbally, and transcendentally through direct experience.
So why is meditation fundamental to spiritual practice?
Well, many religions and cultures would tell you that meditation is the means by which you can communicate with God. Western and modern interpretations of this idea have lead to the redefinition of this as representing a connection with the “Higher Self.”
Whichever way one chooses to label the altered state of consciousness that meditation gives rise to, the results are the same: meditation brings about an immense state of internal peace.
This state of peace has been described by many practitioners throughout history, one of the most famed examples being the Buddha, who sought and achieved enlightenment through its practice. Most religions hold meditation as a central pillar in some way or another, whether it is practiced in the form of sitting meditation, chanting, dancing, whirling, praying, devotion, or through the worship of nature by observing its forces.
Meditation therefore holds the key to a connection between most religions, which may differ in belief, but which all practice their faith in a similar way; they aim to enter an altered state of consciousness, where they can commune with God/Oneness/Higher Self/Nature. Meditation is without a doubt the most fundamental of spiritual disciplines, and its practice, regardless of your beliefs, can result in amazing changes and measurable peace.
Recently the religion of science has caught up with this ancient practice, and has started to give it some much needed credentials. New brain scan technologies such as EEGs can show the difference in brain pattern in a practitioner, providing the solid practical evidence that Western culture seems to require (despite subjective accounts from billions of people, which arguably constitutes a certain proof anyway). Research in this area is important for a paradigm shift to occur; non-religious practitioners will increasingly see the benefits, as meditation is gradually introduced into clinical and therapeutic settings, and then into everyday settings too.
No matter what your spiritual beliefs, and even if you are not at all spiritually inclined, you can feel the benefits of meditation right away. You can begin its practice and see results for yourself in radical time. With longer commitment, you will start to understand for yourself why meditation is so fundamental to spiritual growth.
You will develop a way of being able to observe yourself from a detached perspective, gaining a new sense of clarity. Your problems will be put into focus, your emotions surfaced and dealt with, and your mind will be stilled to a calm trickle. Your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health will improve and you will start to understand the holistic nature of your body, mind, soul, and the planet and cosmos. You will realize your connection to something greater than yourself, however you choose to define it.
All of the books in the world could not teach you in the same way meditation can. Direct experience of yourself and of internal peace will bring about the ability to change your reality, your thoughts and behaviors, and will increase your ability to take control of your life. Meditation is a personal journey into the realm of the spiritual. Nobody has to tell you what to think or believe. You can find all of the answers for yourself, simply by practicing meditation.