Our Inner Processors: Tools and Means

Prayers. Spirituality. Meditation. Religion. What do they mean?

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By Dr. B. S. BainsOpinion |

Many at times people come up to me with questions such as what is Prayers? Spirituality? Meditation? Religion? 

Here are some distinctive differences. 

Prayer is a form of communication or conversation with a higher power or divine being by oneself. It is often considered a way to express gratitude, ask for guidance, seek forgiveness, or offer praise. Prayers can take many different forms, depending on the religion or spiritual tradition they come from, but they typically involve some combination of words, thoughts, and feelings directed towards a deity or spiritual force. Prayer can be practiced individually or in a group setting, and can involve various physical and mental practices, such as chanting, or ritualized gestures. Sikh way of prayers is in Ardas (Supplication before SGGS) that has all the components of gratitude, guidance, forgiveness and praises as mentioned above. 

Meditation involves training the mind to focus on a specific object, thought, or activity with the intention of achieving a calm and stable state of mind, which leads to acceptance. In the Sikh religion, the focus is on the Gurus or Gurbani (Verses of our Gurus in SGGS) during meditation. This practice is commonly utilized to promote relaxation, decrease stress, and increase self-awareness and can be performed in various positions, including sitting, standing, walking, or lying down. Traditionally, in the Sikh faith, meditation is done in the early morning during “Amrit Wella,” a time when most people are sleeping, and the collective mental vibration and consciousness are at its lowest frequency.

So, during meditation, one typically sits in a comfortable position and focuses their attention on a specific object, such as the breath, a mantra, or an image. As the mind wanders, the meditator gently brings their attention back to the object of focus, without judgment or attachment to the thoughts or emotions that arise.

Meditation has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing stress, improving mental clarity and focus, boosting immune function, and lowering blood pressure. It is often used in conjunction with other practices, such as yoga, mindfulness, or spiritual rituals, as a way to deepen one’s connection to the inner self or higher power. When this becomes a practice one would live in a state called “Constant State of Meditation”.  Meditation thus becomes an automatic phenomenon, which the Sikh Gurus described it as “Musical” –“Atam Ras –Dhunn”).

Religion on the other hand is a set of beliefs, practices, rituals and human duty that relate to a higher power or divine being and offer a framework for understanding the nature of existence, the purpose of life, and the meaning of human experience. It is a cultural system that provides a way for people to connect with something greater than themselves, and to seek answers to the fundamental questions of human existence.

Religion can take many forms and can be organized or unstructured, institutional or individualistic, and can encompass a wide range of beliefs, practices, and traditions. Some of the major world religions include Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Jainism, Baha’i and etc. each with its own unique set of beliefs, practices, and values.

Religion can play an important role in shaping people’s world views, values, and behaviors, and can offer a sense of community and belonging. It can also be a source of conflict with fundamentalist ideologies that can bring about division within its own religion, or outside of its believe, as different religious groups may hold conflicting beliefs and values.

Spirituality is a broad and multifaceted concept that relates to the search for meaning, purpose, and connection to something greater than oneself. It can encompass a wide range of beliefs, practices, and experiences, and is often associated with a sense of inner peace, transcendence, and personal growth.

Spirituality can be practiced within or outside of a religious framework, and can involve a wide range of practices, such as prayer, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, or other forms of contemplative practice. It can also involve engaging with the natural world, connecting with others, or pursuing creative or artistic endeavors.

Spirituality can play an important role in people’s lives by providing a sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. It can also help people cope with stress, anxiety, and other challenges by providing a source of support and resilience.

However, spirituality can mean different things to different people and can be shaped by a variety of cultural, social, and personal factors. Some people may find spirituality through organized religion, while others may find it through personal experiences or exploration. In Sikhism spirituality begins with Love, we call it Prema-Bhagti, spirituality is a deeply personal and subjective experience that can evolve over time and may change in response to life circumstances and individual needs

Dr Balwant Singh Bains is a Malaysia-based kirtan enthusiast and a practicing physiotherapist with a chain of physiotherapy clinics.

RELATED STORY:

Guru Nanak’s 10 teachings we can practice daily (Asia Samachar, 29 Nov 2020)

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