Mediation vs Prayer

By Senayt Gaim

What is the exact meaning of meditation and how does prayer relate?


The word meditation has been used in many different ways; “I’m going to mediate on that thought for a while”; “I mediate when I do yoga”; “I’ll be mediating in the room next door for the next 30 minutes.” The word meditation carries different meanings in many different contexts. What is the exact meaning of meditation? The definition of mediation is the act or process of spending time in quiet thought. Meditation isn’t just a practice used in Buddhist temples; it’s been used in Hinduism, Taoism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, and Christianity.

Meditation is a practice in which an individual uses self-reflection of one’s own consciousness to promote relaxation, compassion, love, and/or a spiritual quest. What do you think was the significance of Jesus spending forty days and nights of solitude, prayer and fasting in the Judean wilderness? Or Siddhartha, the Buddha, who sat down under a huge Bodhi tree for forty nine days looking to understand the source of all pain and suffering in the world? They were silently searching and looking towards a higher power to give them guidance.

So how does prayer relate? What is prayer?

Prayer is a spiritual tradition done in numerous ways. Prayer can be done privately and individually, or with other people. Christians bow their heads and fold their hands. Some Native Americans and tribal Africans dance as a form of prayer. Hindus and Buddhist monks chant mantras. Muslims continuously kneel and stand while praying. Jews pray swaying back and forth.  Prayer is a form of speaking to your higher power, whatever that may be.

Prayer and meditation meet in a form of silence and self-reflection. What makes humans different from other animals is the act of self-reflection; through self-reflection we are able to be introspective and willing to learn more about our fundamental essence.  Spending quiet moments alone make us much calmer, healthier, and spiritual beings. The major difference between the two is that prayer is the talking, the demand; where as meditation is the listening. You must be quiet in order to listen.

Senayt Gaim

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