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Upbeat Spiritual Living:  Meditation Reborn: From 1900 Forward

October 20, 2017

© 2017 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM.  World Rights Reserved

Meditation, Upbeat Spiritual Living, Rev. Kebba Buckley Button


This week, we’re running a series of excerpts from Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine.  Last time, we covered the ancient history of meditation.  Today, we cover from 1900 to the present.

In 1922, Siddhartha was published.  This is Hermann Hesse’s book on the spiritual journey of Buddha, beginning when he was a young man.  This book caused a rise in interest in Buddhism in Europe and the U.S., as well as a resurgence in the 1960’s.  In 1927, the Tibetan Book of the Dead was published, sparking another wave of new interest in Tibetan Buddhism.

In the 1960’s, a fresh wave of interest in Eastern religions washed over the English-speaking world.  Transcendental Meditation, or TM, a form of mantra meditation, came to the U.S. and became popular as a stress relief technique.  Its founder, former physics teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, insisted for years that the method was not religious in nature.  TM was even taught in some public schools.  However, in 1977, a New Jersey court ruled that TM was actually religious in nature.  Maharishi’s reaction to the ruling was, reportedly, “Good!  Now the truth can be taught.”  And since then, the technique has been openly taught as a personal spiritual development tool.

Two research groups began in response to TM.  One was led by Herbert Benson, M.D., who was asked by a group of TM practitioners to try to document their improved blood pressure.  Benson was surprised at some of his findings as to the elements required to affect health factors with meditation.  For example, a quiet environment is not required, nor is faith.  Benson went on to author The Relaxation Response, Beyond the Relaxation Response, and 10 other books.  He founded the Mind/Body Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital and is Mind/Body Professor at the Harvard Medical School. Although Benson has been unable to medically document the power of prayer, he believes prayer works, and he continues studies to attempt that proof.

Another research group that took off around the same time was led by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who holds a doctorate in physiology.  Kabat-Zinn used concepts of mindfulness, from Zen Buddhism, and popularized Mindfulness Meditation.  He is a Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

As mentioned earlier, in response to these waves of meditation techniques born of Eastern religions, a Trappist (Cistercian) monk, Fr. Thomas Keating, developed and began teaching a Christian form of meditation he and colleagues call contemplative prayer. Another term for this technique is centering prayer.  Fr. Keating created an international organization, Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., for the support of centering prayer programs and information on the mystical theological basis.  Today, Fr. Keating still teaches many aspects of centering prayer and the mystical life, as does Fr. William Meninger.  Both live at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

Today, students of meditation may study with many fine teachers, in conferences, retreats, by reading their books and articles, and by watching recorded classes on DVD.   In addition to the teachers already mentioned, this writer highly recommends the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk.  His works focus on personal peace and creating global peace.

We are each where we are by Divine appointment.  Each of us has our own particular calling.  The wise seeker will look into the works of various teachers, finding her/his personal sense of being “at home” on her/his individual path.  And none should be concerned if their personal path appears to wander.

And that’s Upbeat Spiritual Livingsm!


Next time: The Effects of Meditation.



  • Kebba Buckley Button is an ordained minister whose passion is helping people find their Peace Within. She is also a stress management expert with a natural healing practice.. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (, plus Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office.  Her newest book is Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and Inspire.  It is available from her office in full-color print or full-color PDF versions.
  • For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: .
Stress, Peace Within, Kebba Buckley Button

Books by Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2017 5:10 PM

    I love that you say that no one should be concerned if their path begins to wander!! And this post brings back memories. I used to use The Relaxation response with individual clients & in therapy groups. And my son and I read studied Buddhism once for homeschooling. I’m really enjoying this series.

    • October 21, 2017 7:12 PM

      Jeanine, big yes, as each individual’s path is their own. How wonderful you were using The Relaxation Response! I am so glad you are enjoying this series. ❤

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