Is meditation for atheists? Of course. This article reveals five great non-religious meditations for atheists and non-spiritualists.
Try telling someone that you meditate. That’ll probably say, “So, you’re religious…?” It seems the world refuses to accept the idea of non-religious meditation for atheists and non-spiritualists.
There are three types of people in the world. The first is the devoutly religious individual. They believe in their one religion absolutely, and they’ll follow that religion no matter what, even if that religion causes harm to other people.
The second type of person is the strictly non-religious and non-spiritual person. These people hate religion and spirituality. They believe religions and spirituality are for the brainwashed. This mentality helps them to avoid being consumed by any one belief. But it also prevents them from taking advantage of the positive aspects of spirituality, of which meditation is just one.
The third type of person doesn’t force themselves to stick to one type of religion or spirituality. They’re not going to follow a book just because society tells them to. But at the same time, they’re open minded enough to consider that some aspects of spirituality might actually be good. This is probably who you are; the type of person willing to consider non-religious meditation for on-spiritualists. And if you are this type of person then great, because in my humble opinion this is the best type to be in. This type of person is open minded enough to consider aspects of spirituality, but also brave enough and independent enough to think for themselves.
It’s easy to see why the third type of person is best. It’s because they’re not forcing themselves to believe anything and, equally important, they’re not forcing themselves not to believe anything. They are the ones with open minds.
If you’re one of the third type of people, then I’m sure you’ll agree with me that some aspects of spirituality and religion are pretty awesome. Take meditation, for instance. Meditation began as a religious practice. It was originally a Hindu practice. It began in Hinduism 4000 years ago. The Buddhists then took hold of meditation and created most of the meditation techniques that are used today.
Meditation began as a religious practice. But it’s changed over the past four thousand years. Today it’s a spiritual and scientific health practice. Spiritual and scientific.
Jeez, if we wanted any proof of how amazing meditation is I think we’ve just hit it. Because spirituality and science don’t agree on much. Tell the National Institute of Science that praying to God will change your life and you’ll be met with a few stiffly raised eyebrows. But say to them “Meditation makes me healthy, happy, and a better human being” and those same scientists will nod approvingly and say, “Yes, it does, we just finished proving that in the lab.”
That’s because meditation is now a scientific practice. And the fact that science approves of meditation really proves the point I want to make today:
So, is meditation religious and spiritual? It can be, based on the individual. But either way there are many different types of non-religious meditations that non spiritualists can use.
No matter some religious people might try to tell you, you CAN meditate. Meditation is for atheists as well as for religious and spiritual people.
Let’s face it, science is the number one form of atheism. Scientists don’t do belief. They objectively study and measure everything. They don’t believe in God. Sure, some might not disbelieve, but they don’t believe either, because you can’t measure God. You can’t quantify God. You can’t put a label on God and say, “Here is God.” Scientists are the biggest atheists of us all. And if they advocate meditation, then clearly meditation is for atheists too.
But if meditation is for atheists, then a new question presents itself. What if you’re an atheist who wants to stay away from any of the religious or spiritual connotations of meditation? Because meditation is still widely perceived as a religious and spiritual practice. If you tell someone that you meditate they’ll presume you are religious. That’s because modern society hasn’t quite caught up with the changing views on meditation. Four thousand years has left a stain in the retina and now anytime people see someone meditating they instantly think “Religious person.”
We’re heading towards a point when meditation will not be seen as a religious practice, but we’re not quite there yet. As neurological scientist Sam Harris says, “There’s going to come a time when we’re not talking about “Buddhist meditation”… we’re just talking about turning consciousness upon itself and what can be discovered by that process.”
We’re getting close to that point, but we’re not there quite yet. So what if you want to meditate but you don’t want to be taken for a spiritualist and you don’t want to engage in anything remotely spiritual? What it you want to do a meditation for atheists, a specific type of meditation that is 100% clear of all spiritual connotations?
It’s hard to answer that question without saying Zen. Because Zen is Buddhism and Buddhism is a religion. But the honest answer is Zen. Blue jeans Zen. Zen without dharma. Zen without Buddha. Just Zen.
I think the old proverb “When sitting sit” says it all. When doing one thing, do one thing. That’s what meditation is, in a nutshell, it’s doing one thing absolutely. And surely there can’t be anything religious about that? Surely doing one thing mindfully is not religious, it’s just healthy.
As Wellness Expert Olivia Rosewood says, “Meditation is merely the momentary pause of thought. It is as religious as the holding of breath as you dive under water.”
Oh, and speaking of mindfully. If you want to try meditation for atheists, then you should probably drop the term “Meditation” and just call it “Mindfulness.” The terms are interchangeable, but the first conveys religious overtones where the second is the same practice without religiosity. That’s why scientists and doctors usually call it mindfulness and not meditation, because it’s a lot easier to say to a Christian “Try mindfulness” than it is to say “Try meditation, the practice created by a religion you opposed to.”
“Meditation for atheists” is called mindfulness. This actually gets a little tricky because traditionally mindfulness is a specific type of meditation, but heck, if the term mindfulness is good enough for hospitals and doctors then it’s good enough for you and I, right?
So, I’m about to share ten types of meditation for atheists, meditations that are non-spiritual and non-religious.
5 types of non-religious, non-spiritual meditation for atheists
1: Just breathe
Breathing surely can’t be religious, can it? Just sit silently and focus on your breathing.
2: Non-religious mantras
Mantras also derive from Hinduism, but they don’t need to be religious. Mantras are simply words or sounds that are repeated. For instance, repeat the word “Calm.” Buddhists would advise you to recite a mantra 108 times, but just recite the word calm until you feel calm. It’s ridiculously simple but also powerfully effective.
3: Acem Meditation
You know when I said that mantras were originally religious, and that scientists don’t like religion? Well, as though to prove both points, scientists in Scandinavia have created a new type of meditation, which is very similar to mantra meditation but non-religious. It’s called Acem meditation. It involves reciting gibberish. You can discover more about Acem meditation here.
4: Mindful Art
All forms of art can readily be made into excellent meditation techniques. Take singing, for example. Simply pick your favorite song and sing it while focusing your mind 100% on the sensations of your voice and breath reverberating around your body. Or painting. Sit outside somewhere beautiful, overlooking a lake, or perhaps a waterfall or mountainside. Now draw or paint the landscape while focusing on that artistic activity. No matter what type of art you’re into, turn it into a meditation technique. After all, all art can be done mindfully.
Silence truly is golden. One of the most beautiful meditation techniques in the world is to focus on pure silence. Silence is infinite, is expands across space and time. When you meditate on silent you expand your consciousness to stretch out across the cosmos. This really is an amazing meditation technique.
These five non-religious types of meditation for atheists are all incredibly effective, and there’s not an ounce of religiosity between the five of them.
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