Got no clue about the meaning of different spiritual words? Does Deepak Chopra confuse the heck out of you? Hey no sweat. Use this spiritual dictionary to find the meaning of different spiritual words.
If you personally know a different spiritual word you would like to add to the list, please leave a comment. Include the spiritual word and the meaning of that spiritual word. Thanks.
The most important spiritual words and their meanings
Active Meditation: Active meditation, as the name implies, is all about meditating while physically active. Active meditations (sometimes called “Dynamic Meditations”) involves walking, dance and other exercises.
Akash: Akasha or space or ether is one of the world’s natural elements from which all is made. It is the most basic of all elements and is also the source of the other elements. Through vibrations, akash interacts with other elements.
Anapanasati: Anapansati is “breathing meditation” and is one of the most important and oldest meditation types.
ANTARATMA: The inner self, which is position inside the heart.
Apana Vayu: This is one of the pranas in the body, of which there are five. The pranas are energies. Apana Vayu is situated in the rectum area and flows downwards. It is instrumental in discarding that which is unneeded.
Astral Body: The Vedas state that there are three bodies: physical, astral and causal. The astral body takes the same image as the physical body but is formed of finer matter. This is the link between cosmic energy and the nervous system.
Aura: The aura is the energy field which resides in all living beings. Those born with the skill are able to see it. When seen, auras appear as colours that reveal an individual’s spiritual and emotional personality.
Avatar: An avatar is a person who had been born as a god and therefore is not in need of any spiritual training.
Bandha: A closure or obstruction. In yoga Bandhas are a combination of muscle contractions. These function as a way of changing blood circulation, nerve pressure and spinal fluid. Bandhas flow psychic energy into energy channels in the body. They are important in self-healing.
Bandhan: This is a specific technique which is performed at the conclusion of meditation practice.
Bhakti: Bhakti meditation is a type of meditation that involves focusing on an object of worship (usually a god or deity). Bhakti brings the practitioner closer to the object of meditation.
Bhramari: A Pranayam. The technique is performed by filling the lungs on inhalation then closing the eyes with the middle fingers and ears with the thumbs. The index fingers then press on the forehead and the remaining fingers push on the eyes and bridge of the nose. While doing this, focus on the Ajna Chakra (between eyebrows). Then hum while exhaling. This relaxes the mind and helps with hypertension and blood pressure.
Bodhisattva: In Buddhism, an enlightened being who no longer needs to be reincarnated and therefore helps others to achieve enlightenment.
Body Scan: A type of meditation in which the practitioner passes their mental focus around their body. Heightens the mind body connection and relaxes both body and mind.
Brahmachaya: This is the combination of the terms “Brahma’ (higher awareness) and acharya (to live in). Therefore, this refers to living with higher awareness. It also means control over sexual interaction.
Buddhi: Inner wisdom or intellect.
Catch: An occurrence caused by the inefficient functioning of a chakra which prevents Kundalini energy from flowing.
Chakra: There are seven chakras in the body and they are energy centres. They are located in the crown of the forehead, between eyebrows, in the neck, heart, navel, genitals and rectum. They are linked to different mental states and colours. The word derives from “Cakra” which, in Sanskrit, means “Wheel.”
Dhyana: The Sanskrit word for meditation.
Dualism: Refers to two distinct irreductible principles. These could be ideas and matter, mind and matter. There are various understandings in philosophy and theology.
Ego: The cause of suffering, the delusional idea of the self as a separate entity.
Enlightenment: Awakening to ultimate truth (in Buddhism). Or, in Hinduism, the state of devine experience which is represented by the god Vishnu. This is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. Perhaps the most famous example is the Buddha, who achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
Feng Shui: Ancient Chinese spiritual art form which integrates spirituality into decoration and environment.
Guru: A spiritual master.
Uda and Pingla Nadis: Two of the three channels located in the spine which refer to the two brain hemispheres. Pingala is active (extroverted) and relates to the left part of the brain and the right side of the body. Ida is introverted and relates to the right side of the brain and the left part of the body.
Jalandhara Bhanda: The “Neck Lock.” A Bandha. This is a technique practiced by contracting the neck and throat.
Japa: The recitation of a god’s name in devotion. May be done aloud or silently. This technique is seen in different forms in all major world religions.
Karma: In Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, Karma is the idea that this life is the result of mental and physical actions in previous lives. In the modern day it is often used to mean that good or bad actions in the past have led to certain consequences.
Kinemantra: A type of meditation in which a personal mantra is recited.
Kundalini: Derived from Sanskrit to mean “Coiled.” Refers to the psychic energy in our being that is dormant at the base of the spine and which may be activated through specific practices.
Laya Yoga: The word “Laya” means dissolution. Laya Yoga involved liberation and finding the “Absolute.” Related to Hindu cosmology.
Lotus Position: Sitting position with the legs crossed, originating in Hinduism and used extensively in meditation.
Manas: In Buddhism, manas are the “general thinking faculty”.
Mana0-Vijnana: the seventh of the eight consciousnesses as taught in Yogacara and Zen Buddhism.
Mandala: A mandala is a diagram that is used in various meditation techniques, principally in Tibetan Buddhism.
Mantra: Spiritual words or sounds used in meditation and devotion. Principally used in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Meditation: Read our definition of meditation.
Merkaba: A meditation technique. Markaba is said to allow the practitioner to achieve “Ascension” to the fourth dimension, thereby freeing them from the three dimensional limitations in which we live. This is the traditional belief of the Merkaba meditation.
Mettabhavana: Meditation practice that leads to the production of loving kindness.
Mindfulness: A type of meditation originating in Buddhism. Mindfulness is all about being aware of your thoughts and detaching from them. Mindfulness involves practicing awareness of true reality.
Nadi: Derived from Sanskrit and meaning “Stream” or “Channel.” The body contains 72,000 nadis.
Nadi Shodhana: The cleansing of nadis performed through various techniques, including Pranayam.
Namaste: I see the sacred in you.
Nauli: In Hatha Yoga, a technique in which the innards are slowly rotated, removing laziness and stimulating the healthy working of the internal organs.
Nati-Neti: A mantra that literally means “Not this, not this.” Used to remove conscious rationalisation to achieve the meditative state.
Nirvana: In Hinduism, Jainism and Buddish, supreme bliss, liberation from suffering and ignorance and liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Nirvikalp Samadhi: Supreme consciousness. The cessation of mental activity and attainment of the supreme state. When achieved, oneness is found.
Om: The primordial sound and the root of sound and letters.
Oneness: The realisation and condition of being in a state of oneness with all reality. Cessation of self.
Passage Meditation: Recitation of passages used in meditation.
Prana: The breath that sustains life. Prana is the essential energy that sustains life. In Yoga, the cosmic life force. Often called ‘Chi.’ Prana enters through the mouth andnose and fills the body, sustaining life.
Prana Vayu: “Forward moving air.” Refers to the air that sets things in motions and which creates the basic energy on which life is sustained.
Pranayama: Techniques that use prana.
Pratyahara: From Ashtanga Yoga, Pratyahara is “withdrawal from the senses”.
Samadhi: “To place together.” The real purpose of yoga is to absorption, achieved through postures and techniques. In meditation, Samadhi is achieved when the individual achieves oneness with the object of meditation.
Samana Vayu: “Balancing Air.”
Samatha: A type of Buddhist meditation which focuses the mind and improves concentration. Used as an entry point to Vipassana meditation.
Sandhya: In Sanskrit “To join together.” Usually refers to sunrise or sunset, when day and night are joined. This is considered the best time for prayer and meditation.
Shitkari: A pranayam technique. Performed with the tongue sticking out between the lips then drawing air in through the mouth while hissing, then exhaling through thenose. Cures fatigue, thirst and hunger.
Shushumna: The great river of the body and the most gracious of all nadis. Runs from the spine to the tip of the head, moving through each chakra. It is the channel through which kundalini energy is moved.
Spiritual: Read our definition of spirituality.
Subtle Body: One of the four bodies.
Swara Yoga: A practice which uses alternation of breath. In Yoga, it related to the sound of the breath and utilises specific techniques for the creation and flow of prana.
Tandra: Higher consciousness between sleeping and waking.
Tantra: A spiritual science now more than 7000 years old. Known widely for sexual practices though in reality it is much more than this. Tanta uses specific techniques to expand the mind and to achieve liberation.
Taoism: Chinese religion and philosophy derived from Tao Te Ching, a book ascribed to Lao Tzu though believed to have been written prior to his life.
Third Eye: One of the chakras activated by meditation. Activation of the third eye chakra leads to improved vision.
Trataka: Yogic gazing. In this technique the gaze is fixed on a specific object. The eyes are then closed and the object visualised. Helpful for curing eye disorders and improving concentration.
Trimurty: The trinity of the three gods of Hinduism—Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
Udana Vayu: “upward moving air.”
Udiyan Bandh: Diaphragm lock in which the muscles in the diaphragm are pulled up, massaging the heart and causing secretion of the thymus.
Ujjayi: Pranayam exercise in which the back of the throat is constricted while breathing in and making an “Ah” sound.
Vayu: Air, which stimulates life and gives birth to the senses.
Veda: Hindu scriptures.
Vipassana: Originating in Buddhism, Vipassana is a type of meditation that is all about being aware of your thoughts and detaching from them.
Vritti: Movement of mind and thought.
Yantra: A visual symbol which is used to help the mind to focus during meditation.
Zazen / Zen: One of the schools of Mahayana Buddhism which states that specific techniques can be used to achieve enlightenment.
So, there are some of the meanings of spiritual words. Have we missed some? Leave a comment!