Is Meditation an Act of Superstition?


Jayaram V

Recently there was a discussion on a message forum whether meditation was superstition. If you have not practiced meditation before and do not know what it is, you may have such doubts. To know the answer, first you have to understand what meditation means. Meditation has the same advantages as relaxation. If relaxation is superstition, then certainly meditation is. The practice of meditation involves any or all the following.

  • Limit the sensory activity. In meditation you close your eyes and limit the amount of information that comes in.
  • Relax the mind and body. You relax all the parts in your body from head to feet by focusing on each of them and relaxing them.
  • Breathe deeply. You take a few deep breaths or a few slow breaths, which will help you relax further and go into a still deeper relaxation.
  • Focus your attention. As you relax, you focus your attention on your mind and thoughts or on a particular spot in your body such as the place between your eyebrows, the tip of your nose or your breath.
  • Pay passive attention. You pay attention to what goes on in your body or mind without controlling or resisting anything, such as your breathing, body sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, memories, or on anything that happens around you or images of places, people and things that spontaneously appear.
  • Pay active attention: You choose any subject or object of interest and pay attention to it, without stressing yourself. The object can be secular or religious.

There are many methods and techniques of meditation, which we cannot list here because of the scope of this discussion. You can find them in many books and articles. Technically, any act of contemplation, deliberation, reflection is meditation. It is an act of letting go of mental restraints so that the mind can be more plastic and you will have an opportunity to break free from routine thinking and habitual responses and spend quality time with yourself and knowing yourself.

In meditation you let your mind do its work, while you watch it. It helps you relax and know your deeper thoughts and hidden feelings. Your meditation does not have to be a religious or spiritual practice. You do not have to think of God or spiritual subjects. You can even think of people you love or things you hate to know why you have such thoughts or feelings towards them.

Meditation can help you overcome weaknesses, behavioral problems or habitual responses. For example, you can visualize situations that disturb you, or cause fear and you can visualize alternative approaches to cope with them in different and healthy ways. You can also consider meditation a fun activity just as you watch a movie or a play a game. It is a controlled day dreaming and a good past time, if there is nothing else to do. You can even practice it with open eyes, which many who regularly practice it do.

You can also use meditation to solve problems, think creatively, analyze a situation, gain insight or know your intuition or gut feelings. Meditation may not solve all your problems. However, it is the cheapest and the most easily available technique to change your thoughts, feel relaxed or become familiar with your deepest thoughts and feelings.

Therefore, meditation is not a superstition unless you are superstitious or prejudiced about it.

Jayaram V is the Founder President of and writer of several books and hundreds of articles on various religious, spiritual and self-help subjects.