Meditation is a practice to quiet your mind. By slowing down the mind's activity (your self-talk and obsessive thinking) you experience relaxation, inner peace, love and joy.
Is it possible doing meditation without a trainer ?
Rob, I think you are an expert for religions. I'm not an expert but I'd like to discuss about them. I have to go now, but I'd like to keep in touch with you and I'd like to learn and say about religions to you. I hope to see you again. I'll continue tomorrow. You may have known my time is +2 GMT. I have to go my home now. See you.
Buddhist meditation practice is focused on this idea: by quieting your mind, you learn how to sit without thinking. The idea is that when your mind is quieted, you realize that the "self"--your personal identity--is just something created by your brain. Your "self" is just a mask you wear in society. And through that discovery you recognize the emptiness inside you: there is no eternal self, no personal identity, no eternal soul.
Anyway, that's what was taught to me in the Japanese Zen tradition I studied with. I'm all for people looking at the common things between religions, but I think it's important to recognize and respect the differences as well. I don't expect a Muslim or Christian to agree with Buddhist principles, but I think recognizing and respecting them for what they are is important. Just saying "oh, it's just like my religion, just worse and not as perfect" can sound disrespectful.
Fair enough. I do think that Buddhism and Islam share some practices, but their goals are really, really different.
Islam basically focuses on the worship of the God of Abraham, and definitey believes in the concept of an eternal soul that will be rewarded or punished depending on how you act in this life. It comes from the same tradition of Judaism.
Buddhism started as a reform movement of Hinduism, and Buddhism's main split from Hinduism is about the issue of the soul. Hindus believe that each living thing has a soul. Buddha didn't really believe that. He believed that the "self" was an illusion. There is no eternal soul: everything eventually disappears, nothing is permanent.
Rob, I think all the religion has inspired from one to another. I believe a God and the God had sent a messenger in different times and ages. In my opinion, some practices and praying style remained from the messenger practices which they asked people to do. Maybe some practices had chanced a litte, maybe some practices had diverged from basic aims. But as far as I know, all the religion had same origin. I'm a muslim and I'm believing Islam is a last religion which sent from God, and last one is the most perfect one. But the others aren't totally wrong.
One really interesting thing I found is that the way that Muslims bow down during salat is almost exactly the same as what Buddhists do when doing their prostrations. There are a few differences, but the body movements are almost exactly the same.
But I don't know if they're really the same thing. Neuroscientists have done studies on long-time Buddhist monks, and they find that their brains actually change in very specific ways due to their meditative practices. I don't think anyone has looked at Muslim practitioners and found the same thing.
And meditation isn't always about relief and relaxation. It's about exploring your inner self, and whether or not that self actually exists, or is only an illusion of the mind.