Meditation has historically or generally been associated with religion.
Buddhism and Hinduism certainly have meditation as a core part of their religious traditions. But so do Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Jainism and others.
There are those who believe you cannot gain the benefits of meditation unless you embrace the philosophy connected to one religion or another. In my view, this is a misconception. By definition, meditation does not necessarily need to be associated with a religious practice. Although I will say that practicing meditation religiously and with at least a spiritual orientation and, more accurately, practicing regularly will reap the best rewards. Different than a religion, it is a method or a discipline to gain focus.
When you look at the purpose of meditation, it’s ultimately for the person practicing to gain a steady and abiding mind and based on such a mind to then use that mind to move past anything that comes along and especially whatever gets in the way. In order to gain a steady and abiding mind, you must first know what that means. Therefore, acquiring this understanding becomes ultra-critical to such a practice.
If a steady and abiding mind is not the primary goal, then meditation has many sorts of expressions or varieties of practices. It just depends upon what you seek. While you may have a practice tied to your religious beliefs, you can just as easily meditate effectively without believing in one religion or another.
In its simplest terms, meditation is about focus.
Often we try to improve our situation or get a better handle on everything that’s going on around us, but we struggle to do that when our mind has no focus and is jumping from one problem or concern to the next. So meditation becomes a way to stop and concentrate our attention on the steady or unchanging.
The simple action of pausing and shifting focus can begin to open the mind to everything we are trying to understand. When the mind is calm, it makes room to notice or observe more subtle things. That’s where your intuition can come into full flower so you start to see things more clearly and appreciate the good things more while not dwelling so much on the bad.
From there, you can then adapt a deeper spiritual or religious orientation toward meditation by engaging in spiritual self-study. Once you do that, you then come to discover that you are ever steady and abiding and thereafter attain the capacity to handle whatever life delivers – whether good or bad. By that spiritual self–study, you have gained the right perspective and the objectivity through the practice of meditation to take on challenges or step away from them depending on the circumstances.
The initial approach is a non-religious application that can reap many benefits and there are many paths for you to choose from at that point. That said, if you wish to go further and expand your mind to discover the spiritual self, you are fully poised to not only gain additional insights but to recognize what your existence, being and overall purpose really and truly are. Whichever road you choose, you can seek it in a religious or a non-religious way through meditation.