Buddhist Traditions and the Relaxation Response

Buddhist Tradition

Buddhism has had the goal of gaining pure soul-consciousness in order to reach absolute or cosmic freedom.

Buddhism goes back to the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who lived about 563-483 B.C. in northern India. At one time Buddhism was influential throughout Asia. The estimated number of Buddhists in Asia today is about 500 million.

Instructions for Buddhist meditation include a quiet environment and a comfortable position. There are two types of Buddhist meditation — samatha, the development of calm and concentration, and vispassan, the development of insight. In samatha the meditator concentrates on a fixed object, either external or internal. Samatha is the practice of in-breathing and out-breathing. The quote below describes the process of Buddhist meditation in more detail.
As to the practice of checking vain thoughts, it should be done in a quiet place, properly seated and in a proper spirit… for all kinds of ideas as soon as thought of must be put away, even the idea of banishing them must also be put away. As all existence originally came to be without any idea of its own, it ceases to be also without any idea of its own; any thoughts arising therefore must be from being absolutely passive. Nor must one follow the mind in its excursions to everything outside itself and then chase that thought away. If the mind wanders far away, it must be brought back into its proper state. One should know that the proper state is that of the soul alone without anything outside of it.