Meditating, we get beyond the reflexive, noisy mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditating is both a component of many religions, and practiced outside religious traditions. Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and non-spiritual goals; achieving a higher state of consciousness or awareness, developing and increasing compassion and loving kindness, achieving greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply cultivating a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.
“Meditating” in its modern sense refers to Yogic meditating that originated in India. In the late nineteenth century, Theosophists adopted the word “meditating” to refer to various spiritual practices drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and other Indian religions. Thus the English word “meditating” does not exclusively translate to any single term or concept, and can be used to translate words such as the Sanskrit dhāraṇā, dhyana, samadhi and bhavana. Meditating may be for a religious purpose, but even before being brought to the West it was used in secular contexts, such as the martial arts. Beginning with the Theosophists, though, meditating has been employed in the West by a number of religious and spiritual movements, such as Yoga, New Age and the New Thought movement, as well as limited use in Christianity.
Meditating techniques have also been used by Western theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Relaxation training works toward achieving mental and muscle relaxation to reduce daily stresses. Jacobson is credited with developing the initial progressive relaxation procedure. These techniques are used in conjunction with other behavioral techniques. Originally used with systematic desensitization, relaxation techniques are now used with other clinical problems. Meditating, hypnosis and biofeedback-induced relaxation are a few of the techniques used with relaxation training. One of the eight essential phases of EMDR (developed by Shapiro), bringing adequate closure to the end of each session, also entails the use of relaxation techniques, including meditating. Multimodal therapy, a technically eclectic approach to behavioral therapy, also employs the use of meditating as a technique used in individual therapy.
From the point of view of psychology and physiology, meditating can induce an altered state of consciousness, and its goals in that context have been stated to achieving spiritual enlightenment, to the transformation of attitudes, and to better cardiovascular health.