New SAT Reading Practice Test 26: Paired Passages—Meditation

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Paired Passages—Meditation

Passage 1

Meditation has been around for thousands of
years, starting as a religious practice. Hindu scripture
from around 1500 BCE describes meditating on the
divine, and art from this time period shows people
05sitting cross-legged and solitary in a garden. In China
and India around the fifth century BCE, other forms
of meditation developed. Several religions, including
Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, had
meditative rites. In 20th-century Europe and
10America, secular forms of meditation arrived from
India. Rather than focusing on spiritual growth,
secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction,
relaxation, and self-improvement.
Although it still isn't exactly mainstream, many
15people practice meditation. Mindfulness medit-
ation, in particular, has become more popular in
recent years. The practice involves sitting comfort-
ably, focusing on one's breathing, and bringing the
mind's attention to the present. Concerns about
20the past or future are let go of. An individual can
picture worries popping like a bubble or flitting
away like a butterfly.
Mindfulness is about increasing awareness and
practicing acceptance. To be present is to have
25sharpened attention, or to be in a state of height-
ened consciousness. Practitioners of mindfulness
report having a better quality of experience, deeper
engagement, and greater measure of fulfillment.
There are also health benefits. According to the
30Mayo Clinic, "Meditation can give you a sense
of calm, peace and balance that benefits your
emotional well-being." Among the emotional ben-
efits are reducing negative emotions, increased
self-awareness, and stress management skills.
35Asthma, depression, and sleep disorders are all
conditions worsened by stress. Several studies have
shown that patients with these conditions benefit
from meditation.
Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Institute
40for Natural Medicine and Prevention, says, "I have
been researching effects of meditation on health
for thirty years and have found it has compelling
benefits. The benefits of meditation are coming to
be widely accepted by health professionals, business
45leaders and the media. It is now time for the
medical profession to catch up."

Passage 2

In 2008, hoping to relax from his stressful job,
Congressman Tim Ryan took a weekend retreat
where he first practiced mindfulness meditation.
50"I came out of it," he says, "with a whole new way of
relating with what was going on in the world." Now
Ryan is an advocate for the benefits of meditation
on health, performance, and social awareness. In
the busy and aggressive world of Washington
55politics, he's a voice for calm consideration.
Every week Ryan, a Democrat representing the
13th congressional district of Ohio, hosts a medita-
tion session for his staff and any other members of
Congress who want to join. Because Republicans
60value self-reliance in international affairs and
Democrats advocate fiscal responsibility, Ryan
believes meditation ought to appeal to members of
both parties. Meditation encourages both, because
it's a health practice that can be self-sustained and
65doesn't require costly memberships or equipment.
In 2010, Ryan wrote the book A Mindful Nation:
How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress,
Improve Performance, and Recapture the American
Spirit, in which he advocates increased mindful-
70ness in many disciplines and professions. After
its publication, kindergarten classes in his Ohio
district started using deep-breathing techniques;
now teachers rave about their students' improved
behavior. "Mental discipline, focus, self-reliance,
75deep listening—these are fundamental skills that
are essential to kids' education," Ryan says. "We yell
at kids to pay attention, but we never teach them
how to pay attention."
Word seems to be spreading around Capitol Hill.
80"I've had members of Congress approach me and
say, 'I want to learn more about this,'" Ryan says.
"Between the fundraising, being away from family,
(and) the environment of hyperpartisanship,
Washington is really stressing people out."
85Ryan supports legislation that puts meditation
to good use for everyone. Among other bills, he has
sponsored one to increase the holistic-medicine
offerings of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"And I haven't met anyone in the country that isn't
90feeling a high level of anxiety right now, given the
economy and what's going on in the world. So
mindfulness is for everyone."
Mr. Ryan is quick to point out that mindful-
ness is not a religious practice, but rather a secular
95mental technique that can be effective regardless of
spiritual beliefs. He compares it to his grandparents
praying and to athletes working out until they feel
"in the zone."
"Your mind and body sync up into a flow state,
100without a lot of mental chatter," Mr. Ryan said.

1. The central idea of Passage 1 is that meditation and mindfulness

  • A. were first practiced as religious rites.
  • B. are becoming more accepted because of their benefits.
  • C. are valuable tools for psychologists.
  • D. help practitioners focus on their inner lives.

2. Passage 1 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true?

  • A. Individuals who practice mediation are less likely to develop illness.
  • B. Meditation helps people advance in their careers.
  • C. Not many studies have been done on the results of daily meditation.
  • D. Medical professionals embrace the benefits of meditation.

3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 2-5 ("Hindu scripture … in a garden")
  • B. Lines 15-17 ("Mindfulness meditation … in recent years")
  • C. Lines 24-26 ("To be present … consciousness")
  • D. Lines 29-32 ("According to … well-being")

4. In Passage 2, what can be inferred about the author's point of view on meditation?

  • A. The author is uncertain about its value.
  • B. The author likes it but sees its limits.
  • C. The author appreciates its value.
  • D. The author is devoted to it.

5. Passage 2 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true of Mr. Ryan?

  • A. He acts on his beliefs.
  • B. He is afraid to try new things.
  • C. He likes to try new things.
  • D. He is concerned about bipartisanship.

6. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 47-49 ("In 2008 … mindfulness meditation")
  • B. Lines 63-65 ("Meditation encourages … or equipment")
  • C. Lines 86-88 ("Among other bills … Affairs")
  • D. Lines 93-96 ("Mr. Ryan … spiritual beliefs")

7. As used in line 42 of Passage 1, "compelling" most nearly means

  • A. creative.
  • B. judicial.
  • C. persuasive.
  • D. adaptable.

8. In Passage 2, as used in line 94, "secular" most nearly means

  • A. nonreligious.
  • B. serious.
  • C. impersonal.
  • D. pristine.

9. In Passage 2, the author's use of the word "chatter" (line 100) implies that

  • A. having an inner dialogue is a useful tool.
  • B. people enjoy imagining themselves in various situations.
  • C. meditation supporters talk about its surprises.
  • D. much of what people think is relatively unimportant.

10. Both passages support which generalization about mindfulness meditation?

  • A. It has become an acceptable way to show spirituality.
  • B. It is making inroads into U.S. culture.
  • C. It should be utilized in public institutions.
  • D. It will soon be embraced by the American public.

11. Which claim from the passages is supported by the graphic?

  • A. Meditation improves a person's focus and discipline.
  • B. Children benefit from learning deep-breathing techniques.
  • C. Meditation makes a person more generous.
  • D. Health professionals are open to the issue of meditation being healthful.