How does yoga Meditation is connected with Buddhism? This article is based on an expert’s interview to explore yoga meditation and its connection to Buddhism.
Introduction to Meditation
Meditation can be found in ancient Buddhist teachings and mindfulness literature, Hinduism and Yoga as well as in the teachings of many other religions and cultures, especially in India and Tibet. The oldest written evidence of meditation practice dates back to 1,500 BC and the Vedic teachings in India. Later, between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, meditation was developed and practiced in China-Taoism, and Tibet-Buddhism.
Meditation in Hinduism also known as Dhyana is one of the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. It is a deeply spiritual and self-awareness practice that involves a profound exploration of the Self. The True Self is the ultimate life and energy we carry within and towards which the yogic path guides us. Meditation is a way to explore this space in and outside the body and create a strong connection with life’s universal and omnipresent energy.
There are many ways to prepare ourselves to practice meditation. In yogic traditions, physical yoga and pranayama breath work are the preparatory base for meditation. It is not as easy as it seems to sit down on the ground and still be physically, mentally, and emotionally. The physical body needs strength, flexibility and nourishment to sit comfortably without discomfort even for a few minutes – not to mention hours or even days. This is why meditation is treated as the last practice in Yogic teachings – the previously mentioned pranayama and yoga are ways to prepare oneself to delve deeper and go beyond the bodily experience of ourselves.
Below you will find more information about meditation and its connection to various traditions and some insight on how to begin this journey with meditation.
Is Every Yoga Meditation a Buddhist?
Meditation does not belong to any tradition, religion, culture, or country. And though it has been written historical evidence in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, it is not to be assigned to them only. Meditation is simply a spiritual practice of freeing the mind and clearing our perspective on life.
The two major meditative practices in Buddhist teachings come from Buddha, known as the Mindfulness of Breathing and Loving-Kindness meditations. Both focus on different things and are great examples of how much a meditation practice can differ.
The techniques and methods in each meditation practice vary. There are, in fact, many types of meditation and they come from different traditions. Some of the best-known and widely practiced ones include the Vipassana Meditation and Zen Meditation from Buddhism, Bhakti Meditation, Mantra Meditation, Sound Bath Meditation, Chakra Meditation from Hinduism, and more besides. Thanks to this, the practitioner can experiment and choose the meditation most suitable for them at a specific moment. Each experience is unique and valid.
For many people, meditation is simply a moment of listening deeply to how they feel, what they think, and where in life they are at this particular moment. It is a path towards self-awareness and exploration, questioning and looking for answers, acceptance and kindness, curiosity and surrender. Meditation is also a unique and fully personal experience that every person has the right to discover and feel in their own way. A powerful space in which all there is unites within us.
Can Non-Buddhists Meditate?
Every person can and probably does sometimes without even knowing it.
Meditation is often associated with Buddhist monks and yogis sitting in silence, consciously breathing and focusing on a particular energy or matter. This is a part of meditation, but many practices can lead us to a meditative experience.
My Guru once asked me and other students: Have you ever been caught up in a moment so much that nothing else mattered and existed in those few seconds? For example, when you go for a walk and notice a beautiful bird flying close by or see a shooting star in the night sky. Or when you enjoy a flavor of something, you have never tried.
All those moments of turning our energy towards something more than our physical body, thoughts, and emotions can be seen as a glimpse of a meditative state and greater awareness. It does not mean we need to focus on finding these moments every time we go for a walk. Let them be in your life and enjoy experiencing them whenever they come.
Everyone can easily understand this simple example, I assume. Therefore I often share it whenever someone asks me about meditation.
Meditation is done for as many reasons as people are meditating. It is perfectly fine to do it to relax, clear the mind, be more focussed, sleep better, or get into a more spiritual experience. Whatever need and curiosity there is behind anyone deciding to meditate is valid. When it comes to meditation, there is no rush, no race, and no need to force anything. The experience is our choice and how we go through it is our own path.
Many meditation schools and teachers are there to help and guide us on our path inwards. It is truly a beautiful experience to learn from others and then break away, discover, and explore the other ways we wish to live on this earth. So even though meditation is a very personal and unique practice, there are specific structures and practices to be learned to lay the foundation to make our meditative practice safer and more comfortable.
I highly recommend anyone interested in starting a meditation search for teachers and practitioners willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you. As living beings, we are all connected in some way. Therefore, we might find it helpful to be guided into meditation and practice in the most comfortable way.
Meditation has always been there for anyone who needs to connect with themselves and the universal energy of life. It is a profound practice that can support calmness, tranquility, clarity of thoughts, and perspective and help us maintain our well-being in balance. Meditation is for everyone and everyone is for meditation. Whether you wish to explore it on your own or learn and share the experience with others, meditation is there for you. If you feel like delving deeper and learning more teachings about meditation, we invite you to join our online Calm Your Spirit, Soothe Your Mind meditation course.