by Pat Ferguson
Meditation recently received a big boost from one of its most popular participants: Oprah Winfrey. The small town of Fairfield, Iowa, was the recent poster child for Transcendental Meditation’s (aka as “TM”) empowering effects over the mind, body and spirit for both inner peace and healthier living. Perhaps it was their practically non-existent crime culture, or maybe it was their daily call to meditation, attracting over 1/3 of their 95,000 in population that struck the interest of Oprah’s audience. Whatever it was, it’s got a lot of people talking about meditation, its purpose and powerful effect on our overall wellbeing. The question most of us have is the following: “How is “meditation” different from “praying”? What benefits are known about both? Why practice one over the other? Will practicing meditation and/or prayer impact our overall wellness? Do we really have an untapped “power from within” that can be released through prayer and/or meditation? As a society, we usually separate meditation and prayer from three different perspectives (see below)
Meditation has been around for thousands of years, practiced in all forms of both non-religious and organized religious groups, using a variety of methods. The actual Transcendental Meditation “technique and movement” was first introduced in the 1950’s, by an Indian man named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Known as the “giggling guru”, Maharishi developed a method using various mantras (repetitive sounds) and breathing techniques focused on calming the inner-self, while reaching a spiritual plane of balance and peace from within. From all outward appearances, Mahesh simply wanted to train people to be at peace and to use the power of that peace to help their bodies live as naturally, healthy and balanced as possible. Beyond that purpose, you could say some of the deeper TM methods point toward a religious aspect of Buddhism (calling upon the “gods” from within) while completely steering clear of any one singular faith or religion.
Depending upon a person’s faith prayer is a very personal and profound experience. From being in a conversation with God to being silent while focusing upon God prayer can mirror certain aspects of “meditation” (see below) and provide very much the same results (inner peace/focus/clarity/reflection/purpose). What can be widely different between prayer and TM is based upon who you ask. Read More