Meditation is one of the most beautiful gifts at our disposal. Most long-term meditators can attest to the exquisitely transformative nature of this practice. You might be wondering: where does meditation come from? Meditation started more than 1500 years Before Christ. It stems from Vendatism which is part of the Hindu traditions. From that point on, more refined meditation forms started cropping up. In the 5th and 6th century BCE, the Chinese Taoist tribe and the Indian Buddhists came up with their own versions of meditation. In the Buddhist culture, contemplative concentration is one of the four necessities for awakening. The other three requirements, as stated in the Pali Canon (the Buddhist recanting of the sutras or teachings of the Buddha), include concentration, knowledge and liberation. Some of the notable individuals associated with early forms of meditation in the West include Philo of Alexandria, Saint Augustine and Plotinus.
Meditation history and origins
The English word ‘meditation’ stems from meditatum, a Latin term meaning ‘to ponder’. Although the exact time that meditation commenced is still unknown, experts agree that this practice began more than 5,000 years ago. It even goes further than the birth of modern civilization. Before scholars could establish where does meditation come from, they first had to decipher ancient texts and recorded hieroglyphs that shed some light into this art. Several archaeological findings suggest that hunter-gatherers were among the first to practice meditation. Their deep knowledge was passed down from one generation to another, helping to lay down the crucial foundations of modern meditation.
For years, meditation was restricted to Asian countries mainly because travel was limited. It was only until the mid-20th century that other regions around the world got access to this practice. It cost an arm and a leg to travel to the Far East during the 1800s and early 1900s. Later, strict societal values were relaxed and commercial transport improved. This made it possible for meditation pioneers to traverse the globe and teach others about this amazing art. Although meditation history and origins are rife with stories of admirable heroes and heroines, we’re all glad that it didn’t die out like a candle flame.
Meditation in Japan
In the 8th century, Dosho (a Japanese monk) travelled to China where he learned Buddhism, which when he introduced it into Japan became Zen. Upon returning from his journey, he opened his very own meditation hall and started teaching a form of sitting meditation called zazen. This gave rise to a generation of Japanese monks who primarily practiced sitting meditation. Meanwhile, different religious groups were developing their own versions of meditation. The Jewish community integrated certain meditative practices into their traditions, including their Kabbalistic practices. In Islam, individuals practiced breathing controls while chanting God’s different names. Eastern Christians repeated prayers and incorporated certain meditative poses.
Now that we’ve answered where does meditation come from?, it’s important to unearth how it reached part of Europe and America. While there were more isolated groups of meditation practitioners decades before, meditation broke out in Europe in a mainstream manner by the mid-90s. Researchers and professors were all too curious about this new-found practice. They began a series of studies and tests to learn how meditation could benefit us. During the early years of 1970, Dr. Herbert Benson established the effectiveness and benefits of meditation thanks to his intensive research at the esteemed Harvard University. The practice developed dramatically from then on. Millions of people currently meditate. Doctors even recommend it as a preventative measure and remedy for certain ailments. Meditation can also be used as a wholesome physical and mental wellness tool.
Meditation history and origins are rich and powerful. One thing’s for sure: meditation will continue advancing for more years to come. There are a number of applications that can help you commence or progress with your daily meditation. I recommend the Mindworks: Guided Meditation App for beginners as well as seasoned meditators. It contains a variety of Mind Talks that will challenge you and inspire you. You’ll also enjoy daily guided meditations, so try it.