Meditation has a long history, originating in several cultures and religions. The word meditation has its roots in the Latin word meditari, which means a state of deep reflection and concentrated thought activity. From a religious perspective, meditation is used as a tool to develop self-awareness, approach God, and attain enlightenment. Knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation through cultures and religions. There are many different types of meditation techniques with different branches, purposes and origins. These techniques can range from guided meditations practiced sitting in silence, to conscious movements used in yoga and Qui chong. However, there are two main techniques and these are meditation through focus and meditation through contemplation. During a focused meditation, the practitioner is concentrated on an image, sound, movement or mantra. The thoughts that emerge are first observed and then released to return to previous focus. In a contemplation meditation, the practitioner actively seeks answers to a particular question and the answer to the question then leads on to other related questions. There are many studies that maps the positive effects of meditation.
Researchers are looking for answers to how meditation affects human biology and psychology. Today’s technology makes it possible to measure the volume or density of the brain’s gray matter before and after a period of meditation training. Then, any connection between physiological changes in the brain and psychological functions is analysed. Meditation changes the gray matter of the brain and affects psychological functions. The studies compare how people with long experience of meditation training have been affected physiologically and psychologically, and how study participants without previous experience are affected by a period of meditation training, in contrast to control groups who do not meditate at all. One consequence of the physiological changes is an improvement in psychological functions such as increased well-being, reduced stress response and increased ability to pay attention. Meditation training can therefore have the potential to contribute to improved schooling, a possible complement to medication for depression and reduced human suffering and costs for mental illness.