Meditation : differences between the East and the West

Meditation, which was developed millenia ago, has become of current interest in a world searching for ways to live harmoniously with nature. Many of the c1aims about meditation are made in terms of a philosophical system which is unfamiliar to the Western mind. However, in the last decade research has taken place in Western laboratories to try to determine, in ways acceptable to the scientific community at large, the effects which meditation has on human personality. This thesis explores the historical background of meditation, the differing philosophical viewpoints of East and West regarding the goals of meditation, and the research which has been done to explore and define meditation in Western terms. The use of meditation techniques as an adjunct to psychotherapy is discussed. And an attempt is made to show why a synthesis of the Western ana1ytica1 approach and the Eastern philosophical viewpoint is necessary before valid research in meditation can be carried out.