Imagine a person in deep meditation: what do you see? Likely, the image is a person in yoga attire, sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed, and their thumb and forefinger touching to create an “O” shape. In your head, that person may even be making a low hum. Now think about what that person is like. Are they weird? Calm? Spiritual? Relaxed? Vegan?

The likelihood is that they are some combination of that, but the truth is that none of those things are even necessarily related to one another. Some popular celebrities, such as Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, David Lynch, and Phil Jackson may not strike you as the types to meditate on a fairly regular basis, but all have espoused this relaxation method as a part of their everyday lives. Brand has suggested that meditation helped clear himself of his vices. Simmons has been vegan for over 10 years and recently wrote in his book “Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All” that a person can become deeply satisfied with their life by reaching a state of bliss related to non-neediness. Lynch runs a foundation that provides meditation classes to traumatized veterans and needy people. Jackson’s habits have been perhaps more talked about if only because of how rare they might be in the ego-oriented National Basketball Association; prior to retiring from the L.A. Lakers coaching position, commentators regularly referred to him as “The Zen Master,” and the approach (along with several all-time greats) won him 11 championships.

Maybe the best part about meditation is the fact that there really is no chief definition or strict rule to follow. While Simmons is a dedicated vegan, Lynch and the others are still carnivores. Anyone can meditate, although many don’t necessarily know how or where to begin. There are several forms of meditation, from Reiki, to chakra, to Sahaja, and each have varying “rules” a person should follow. Reiki pronounces five vegan principles, while Sahaja does not advocate any specific diet; they are against rules rooted in dogma and rigidity, which is the antithesis of this meditation style. Osho, known by his followers as a spiritual master, sees the idea of vegetarianism as having immense value in our culture.

The reasons for preaching vegetarianism or veganism for meditation purposes primarily have to do with one thing: reverence for life. Many people who meditate on a regular basis feel that all life is connected, and exists as one organic entity. Vegetarianism functions as a form of purification. When an animal is killed for food, their final emotions are “imprinted” in their bodies, which are then eaten by people. Not only are people eating the animals, spiritualists suggest, but they are consuming the energy of fear, and this energy is released throughout your body as a poison.

Meanwhile, eating the gifts of mother earth are said to purify those negative energies. To follow these beliefs is not to say that it is impossible to meditate as a carnivore, but it is much more difficult for your inner consciousness to navigate a body filled with negative energy. So while morality may play a part of it for some, it has more to do with aesthetics.

Regardless of your beliefs, there is little doubt that meditation has exceptionally strong effects on your body and psyche. Some use it as a simple tool for relaxation, while others use it as part of their spiritual quests to find inner peace, or explore the astral realms. In 2007, the University of Wisconsin published their findings of changes in the brain during meditation. The authors measured neuroplasticity – structural changes in connectivity in the brain during various activities – and found that responses to visual stimuli reflected the impact of meditation on attention, as well as alterations in amplitude and synchronicity of oscillations in the brain. Put simply, meditation helps a person think more clearly.

So what experience do you guys have with meditation? What interesting effects has meditation had on your lives? Anyone tried meditation during vegan and non-vegan stretches, and if so, what differences did you guys notice? How about other ways of meditation, such as while playing a musical instrument? Tell us about your experiences.