Meditation is a technique for producing an altered state of consciousness. It usually involves sitting still for a period during which consciousness might be relaxed and focused by means of a word repeated silently in the mind, or by the visualization of an image of some sort. The Vipassana, or insight, meditation practiced by Buddhists initially stresses observation of what takes place in the mind and body (breathing and sensations) during meditation.
Christian meditation - Contemplation
Meditation in the Bible goes back to the book of Genesis and appears periodically throughout. Focus is not on a word, but on a thought or concept. An example of a verse on meditation is found in Psalms 1:2
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night (NIV version).
Christian meditation is a form of silent, contemplative prayer that uses a prayer-word, which is rooted in the gospel and the letters of St. Paul, and originated with the early desert fathers of the fourth century. It is a daily personal discipline, a practice of stillness and simplicity, not a substitute for all the other forms of prayer, but as a center for them.
Buddhist meditation - Contemplation
- Generosity (Charity-Philanthropy- Benevolence: "Benefit others more than yourself.")
- Morality of the Five Precepts - Renunciation of immorality and the causes of suffering (the causes are always based in immorality or amoral behavior).
- Patience (implies Forgiveness and Endurance)
- Joyful Perseverance (Persistence, Determination and Moral Fortitude or Moral Courage)
- Meditation (Calm Abiding or Making the mind have deeply relaxed focused awareness for contemplation of morality-compassion-wisdom)
- Wisdom (Interdependence, Understanding Cause and effect, Prudence, Humility of "No Self")
- Skillful Means or Expedient Means (Use the "medicine" according to the particular "disease" and "patient")
- Great Vows (to get Enlightened in order to better "Benefit others more than yourself.")
- Great Strength
- Great Wisdom (Buddhahood)
Depending on the sect of Buddhism, many traditions of Buddhist meditation teach the discipline of relaxed focused contemplation and awareness of virtue through regular daily reflection on the above Ten Perfections. All forms of Buddhism stress that success in meditation is impossible without first cultivating one's 1. Generosity, 2. Morality, 3. Patience, and 4. Joyful Perseverance (requires understanding, awareness and development of Qi-Prana).
Focus in meditation
Focus in Buddhist meditation means concentrating the mind selectively on a single aspect of one's thoughts or images while letting go of all other things until the mind become "single-pointed" ("samadhi") through relaxed focused awareness ("shamatha"). According to Buddhism, focus is related to the "fire element" of the mind and nervous system.