That there’s a deep link between religion and meditation is a very common belief. The question is, is popular perception reliable in such cases? To respond to this, let’s take a look at what is myth and what’s fact.
Myth: Meditation is specific for some religions.
Some people assume that certain meditative techniques ‘belong’ to a particular religion. They’re performed by people of a particular faith due to being part of a ritualistic practice. It is assumed that such meditation is intrinsic to the propagation of the religion, and is thus sanctimonious in nature.
Fact: Meditation comes from religious traditions.
Yes, meditative techniques find their roots in religious traditions from across the world. However, you should remember that all religions consist of meditative activity in certain form or another; it might not be formally recognized as meditation per se, but has similar purposes and effects such as introspection and self-realization, respectively.
Can People of Any Religion Meditate?
Contemporary meditation techniques may be connected with religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism, but meditation is essentially not a religious activity. It basically aims at developing a feeling of deep consciousness within a person so that he or she is well-aware of their every thought, emotion or physical sensation. Such consciousness has byproducts like introspection, insight, acceptance, relaxation and so on. However, none of this is religious in nature.
Therefore, anyone belonging to any religion as well as an agnostic or atheist can practice meditation. It might be possible that some meditative techniques utilize some words or mantras that draw from a certain religious tradition, but since they don’t have any sacred sanctity here, one don’t have to be bothered. Those who feel uncomfortable with this particular practice though can make their own mantra. For this, they’ll have to pick some vowels and set them up in a pattern that’s easy yet engaging for them. The mantra must be adapted into a particular breathing pattern, and will then be chanted the same way as any other.
The bottom line is that meditation is separate from religion though linked to it in some ways. People can practice meditation freely, regardless of their faith. Those who would like to try out the meditative techniques stemming coming from a particular religion can do that as well, for such forms are blind to a person’s faith but concerned with their mind and spirit. So, if you would like, go ahead and take up meditation without worrying about your religious affiliations vis-à-vis the meditative form; keep in mind that it is all about the mind and what’s within!