A lot of the people who meditate do it for religious reasons, especially if they are affiliated with religions from the Far East. Meditation is a crucial component of many different branches of Buddhism, for one thing. Some branches of Buddhism contend that people need to be able to meditate in order to truly release themselves from suffering. The people who practice meditation for these reasons are certainly going to be able to get all of the physical and medical benefits of meditation in the process, but they will get an additional set of personal benefits as well.
However, many people today do not see meditation as a purely spiritual practice. Plenty of people who consider themselves secularists or even atheists will still practice meditation for the sake of the health and medical benefits. There is nothing inherently religious about meditation, even though it is a key component of many of the oldest and most widely-practiced faiths. People shouldn’t be scared away from meditation because they’re under the impression that they are going to have to convert to any faith in order to practice it for themselves.
Naturally, many of the people who do practice meditation tow the line between viewing it as a purely spiritual practice and viewing it in a more secular light. Some people consider themselves spiritual but not especially religious, and they may specifically try to awaken their spiritual sides as a result of their meditative practices. Meditation can create very powerful emotional experiences, so it is not surprising that many people can view meditation as spiritual in its own right, regardless of whether or not it is directly connected to any sort of established, organized religion.
Many people all around the world today are more or less pursuing their own, private brands of spirituality. While lots of people still belong to more organized faiths, it has become more socially acceptable to pursue one’s own unique path to a greater extent. Many spiritual people are trying to find activities or experiences that make them feel connected to forces that are larger than themselves. For these people, trying meditation is often the first step forward on their own unique personal journeys.
Meditation certainly provides a very unique emotional experience. Being able to separate oneself from the chaos of one’s normal thoughts can make all the difference in terms of one’s ability to perceive other things. Many people will believe that they are literally experiencing something on a higher plane of reality as a result. Other people may believe that they are becoming connected with a spirit world of some sort. Some individuals will turn their spiritual focus inward somewhat, believing that they are connecting with their own souls to a much greater extent than they otherwise would.
One way or another, the emotional contexts that meditation creates can be so powerful that they will literally feel ‘out of this world’ to many people. Some people will interpret this set of emotions in a more religious context, and other people are going to frame it in more secular terms. A given meditation session is going to ultimately reflect the person who is actually doing the meditating. People from all over the spectrum in terms of religiosity will all be able to benefit from meditation, so meditation will take on multiple forms.