meditation, religious discipline in which the mind is focused on a single point of reference. It may be a means of invoking divine grace, as in the contemplation by Christian mystics of a spiritual theme, question, or problem; or it may be a means of attaining conscious union with the divine, e.g., through visualization of a deity or inward repetition of a prayer or mantra (sacred sound). Some forms of meditation involve putting the body in a special position, such as the seated, cross-legged lotus position, and using special breathing practices. Employed since ancient times in various forms by all religions, the practice gained greater notice in the postwar United States as interest in Zen Buddhism rose. In the 1960s and 70s the Indian Maharishi Mahesh Yogi popularized a mantra system known as Transcendental Meditation. Meditation is now used by many nonreligious adherents as a method of stress reduction; it is known to lessen levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress. The practice has been shown to enhance recuperation and improve the body's resistance to disease.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Meditations to Transform the Mind
Glenn H. Mullin; Dalai Lama Bskal-bzayn-rgya-mtsho.
Snow Lion Publications, 1999
The Practitioner's Guide to Mediation: A Client-Centered Approach
Stephen K. Erickson; Marilyn S. McKnight.
Wiley, 2001
Buddhist Meditation
Edward Conze.
George Allen and Unwin, 1956
Meditation and Psychotherapy: An Effective Combination
La Torre, Mary Anne.
Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, Vol. 37, No. 3, July-September 2001
The Contemplative Practitioner: Meditation in Education and the Professions
John P. Miller.
Bergin & Garvey, 1994
Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology
Bruce W. Scotton; Allan B. Chinen; John R. Battista.
Basic Books, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "The Contribution of Hinduism and Yoga to Transpersonal Psychiatry" and Chap. 17 "Meditation Research: The State of the Art"
Meditation and Prayer: A Comparative Inquiry
Gross, Rita M.
Buddhist-Christian Studies, Annual 2002
Zen Art for Meditation
Stewart W. Holmes; Chimyo Horioka.
Tuttle Publishing, 1973
Thoughts without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective
Mark Epstein.
BasicBooks, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Part II "Meditation"
The Vision of Buddhism: The Space under the Tree
Roger J. Corless.
Paragon House, 1989
Librarian’s tip: "Meditation: The Centered Mind" begins on p. 144
Stages of Meditation
Kamalashila; Venerable Geshe Lobsang Jordhen; Losang Choephel Ganchenpa; Jeremy Russell.
Snow Lion, 2001
On Being Mindless: Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem
Paul J. Griffiths.
Open Court, 1986
Spiritual Living for a Skeptical Age: A Psychological Approach to Meditative Practice
Jonathan C. Smith.
Plenum Press, 1992
Learning to Dance Inside: Getting to the Heart of Meditation
George Fowler.
Addison-Wesley, 1996
Search for more books and articles on meditation