What’s The Connection Between Meditation And Religion?

The benefits of meditation are now widely recognised in our society. Scientific support for the benefits of a regular meditation practice now puts its value as a complementary therapy beyond doubt. Improved concentration, focus and mental balance are just a few of the benefits that make it so appealing to those in the corporate world. A sense of calm, peace and mental wellness make it an equally ideal support for those with mental health issues. And let’s not forget the original purpose of meditation – communing with the Divine. The practice of emptying one’s mind and connecting with the universe will never cease to be a human need of the highest order.


Though meditation is usually associated with Buddhism, you will find that it features in every religion. Nowadays, it is possible to find religious retreats of any denomination that includes a meditation element. Many Christian retreats teach mindfulness as a pre-prayer practice, and the Quaker group actually makes silent meditation the main focus of its worship sessions. Of course, one should remember that prayer and meditation are essentially not different, but deepened or ideal forms of each other. After all, a deep connection to God requires unbroken concentration born only of a detached mind.


Hindu retreats are prolific in every country of the Western world, and offer a variety of scriptural backgrounds and meditation backgrounds. Often, retreats will focus on mantra meditation, or may perhaps incorporate an element of asana practice. Muslim retreats are more common than people suspect, with Sufi practices forming a common method of performing Zhikr, or connection to the Divine. It is also welcome news that the number of multi-faith organisations in the UK is on the rise. Accordingly, there are increasing opportunities to share meditation time with those of a variety of backgrounds.


When starting a meditation practice, it is important to choose a group or society that you feel you ‘click’ with. If you are religious it will boost your new practice profoundly to fit it into the context of your spiritual life and beliefs. Alternatively, you may wish to undertake a training process with a group that claims no particular affiliation – examples include Goenka retreats and the Brahmakumaris World Spiritual University who don’t mention conversion to a particular religion, but simply teach the method as it was meant to be taught. It’s extremely helpful to have a supportive community around you when you start meditating, so keep looking until you find exactly the group that’s right for you. Meditation is a practice that should allow you to confidently live a spiritual life of your own choosing, and real wellbeing relies on this total freedom of choice.

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