Bhavana (Pali and Sanskrit) means "development". In the teaching of the Buddha it is often used in a compound form in such phrases as "citta-bhavana", "metta-bhavana", "samatha-bhavana" and "vipassana-bhavana". These phrases mean, respectively: the development of the mind or the cultivation of the heart ("citta" means both heart and mind); the development/cultivation of loving-kindness; the cultivation of tranquility and the development of insight.

The word bhavana is sometimes rather vaguely translated into English as 'meditation' so that, for example, metta-bhavana may be translated as 'the meditation on loving-kindness' or vipassana-bhavana as 'vippasana meditation'. Meditation as a state of absorbed concentration on the reality of the present moment is properly called dhyana or samadhi.

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