One term that the Buddha frequently used when speaking of meditation
was bhāvanā. This word literally means 'cultivation' or 'development,'
the meditation practices taught by the Buddha are for the purpose of mental
and spiritual development.
There are two general categories of meditation in Buddhism: Tranquility
(samatha) and Insight (vipassanā). In the former method,
one's mind is
directed to one subject - a word, phrase, or sentence, a color, a symbol, or
the breath - to the exclusion of all else. In samatha meditation, the emphasis
is on the faculty of concentration, and one maintains the mind in a state of
single-pointed focus called samādhi.
In vipassanā meditation, the emphasis is on the faculty of mindfulness -
present-moment awareness - and one maintains the mind in a state of open-
ness, observing the body, feelings, consciousness, and mental states from
moment to moment.
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