In nearly all cultures, there exists some form of a practice of meditation. Meditation is a term used in several different ways. What is most commonly meant is a "quieting of the mind" or "going within" which is a practice in which the meditator attempts to cease conscious thought and "just be." This is much more difficult than it sounds which is the reason why most of us fail to practice!

Just because it is difficult, though, does not mean that the effort is not worthwhile. For many different reasons. Apart from the spiritual benefits, the practice of meditation as described above has been scientifically shown to affect health in a positive way. It has been shown to decrease blood pressure, increase antibodies, and reduce stress.

In addition to the above, there are other types of meditation. There is meditation on a particular topic or for a particular purpose, such as "finding your spirit guides" or "communing with spirit" or "getting closer to God." There is "walking meditation," in which the movement of walking is used to bring on the meditative state. There is meditation on suffering and loving-kindness, as well as many, many other traditions of spiritual meditation and development.

There are many ways to induce the meditative state, as well. Some simple methods are as follows:

Focusing on your breath

Focusing on a "mantra" which is really just a word or sound that works for you. The ancient mantra "OM" is probably the best known.

Focusing on a mental image, such as "an infinitely large, dustless mirror"

Focusing on an object, such as a candle.

Self examination, such as detaching yourself from your thoughts and "watching them come and go, as a horse in a meadow, neither chasing the horse if it runs away, or trying to make it come to you," as well as many, many other methods.

The bottom line is that there is NO wrong way to meditate (unless, perhaps, you are meditating on a way to do harm to yourself or others.) Whatever type of meditation works for you, whatever method you are comfortable with, it can be an important part of your spiritual growth and practice.