Research demonstrates that meditation is good for our body, mind, and spirit. Yet we tend to only look towards the East and ignore the West when it comes to learning, practicing, and valuing meditative skills. This is a big mistake.
All of the religious and spiritual traditions offer thoughtful and effective contemplative and meditative practices and techniques. Mindfulness meditation, associated with the Buddhist tradition, is the approach that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years and perhaps has been the most successfully integrated into secular mental and physical health care. Practitioners such as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center have helped to popularize this form of meditation and secularize it so that it is acceptable to both professionals and clients alike, regardless of religious tradition or involvement.
Mindfulness meditation is an excellent example of how a particular religiously based technique can be adapted to help others when it is in a form that is both understandable and acceptable to people who have no particular religious or spiritual affiliations. Clients can use the principles and techniques of this form of meditation to lower stress, improve their psychological and physical health, and ultimately improve the quality of their lives. The same is true for yoga. Yoga studios can be found throughout the United States and even in shopping and strip malls. Yoga is a complative and meditative practice associated with the Hindu tradition but has often been secularized to the point that it can feel like an exercise class. The remarkable success of mindfulness meditation and yoga in popular and professional practice underscores the interest in Eastern approaches to meditation and contemplative practices.