Meditation in the Modern World
Despite the numbers of people identified with institutionalised religion plummeting in recent decades, increasing numbers of us are referring to ourselves as spiritual with spiritual affiliation and practices actually being on the increase in the Western world.
Secularisation refers to the move away from religious values and institutions towards non-religious and secular establishments. Charles Lemert refers to this relatively modern phenomenon as a move away from the soul to the self. When modern people decided that the doctrine of the soul was a bit too religious for secular society, the idea of a self came into being. People, then, who once thought of themselves as having an eternal soul now came to think of themselves as having a unique self, with all of the qualities that were once attributed to the soul now being attributed to this self. The difference is that the soul was seen as a collective and pure manifestation of the divine, whilst the self was depicted as being highly individualised and riddled with contradictions.
Despite the numbers of people identified with institutionalised religion plummeting in recent decades, increasing numbers of us are referring to ourselves as spiritual with spiritual affiliation and practices actually being on the increase in the Western world. The linked article here looks at the spiritual-yet not religious-practice of meditation, which has been shown to be beneficial for boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, alleviating migraines, and increasing grey matter in parts of the brain to name just a few recent study findings. Research on meditation continues to proliferate and this paper interestingly looks at the coverage of meditation in mainstream print media by analysing 764 articles printed in English from worldwide media outlets from 1979 to 2014. The paper suggests a certain sociocultural shift in which meditation practices are being increasing explored, encouraged and practiced.