The practice of meditation has become more and more popular with each passing year. So what is meditation? Normally, people consider meditation as a kind of prayer or mental concentration, but it actually is so much more than that. Meditation simply put, is a way of transforming the mind. A person induces a mode of consciousness or trains the mind to establish a state of deep, profound peace whereby the mind is silent and calm, yet completely alert. This practice helps balance the body, heal the mind and restore the spirit. 

Today, there are over 17 different kinds of meditation practices available for us to dive into and figure out which works well for each of us. Testing out the various teachings of mindfulness available helps us to reach our true personal state of enlightenment. Firstly however, let's look at the history of meditation to begin to understand the health benefits associated.

Meditation history and origins

Meditation history and origins

The word 'meditation' is derived from the Latin words 'Mederi' (to heal) and 'Meditari' (to exercise the mind, to dwell upon, to think). Meditation is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years in different forms. 'Vedas', some of the earliest written records about meditation, come from Vedantism (Hindu traditions) around 1500 BC. Another record, 'Tantras' (Indian scriptures), mentioned meditation practices 5000 years ago. Other forms of meditation were developed in Buddhist India and Taoist China around the 600 to 500 BC. 

Despite the early historic development and origins of Buddhist meditation, it remained confined exclusively in Asia until the 20th century, when it crossed oceans and became popular worldwide. The delay was largely due to the high costs and the long period of time it usually took to travel to the Far East in the 1800s and early 1900s. Thanks to the relaxation of societal values and advancements in commercial transport, meditation eventually became popular in the West in the 1960s and 1970s. 

History of Buddhist meditation

History of Buddhist meditation​

Since the advent of meditation, the practice has progressed to no end over the years, largely as a result of Buddha, who changed everything. Buddha's teachings have been widely used and referred to since 500 BC. The teachings have helped change the historical course of meditation today.

According to the teachings of Buddha, no one could expect to gain 'Nirvana' (the fully awakened state of complete enlightenment and freedom) if he or she was not using a correct method toward tranquility and insight. In other words, your mind will only develop if you develop tranquility and you'll find wisdom only if you develop insight. These two qualities, tranquility and insight, are the basis of meditation. Achieving mindfulness should therefore be the sole focus to in order to free yourself from your impulses and the blindness of ignorance.

How does meditation work

Meditation practices involve techniques that develop and encourage concentration, emotional positivity, clarity and a calm perspective of the real nature of things. It may daunting thinking about how to get in touch with your spirituality but rest assured, through patience and practice comes peace. Once you develop a routine of meditating, you will begin to see that you can concentrate more, have clearer thoughts and simply feel better overall.

Many credit meditation in relieving their chronic physical or mental health issues like joint pain, anger, stress, anxiety and even depression. Furthermore, this ties in to being able to understand your 7 chakras and how activating them can ease specific health and wellness issues you are facing. 

Though it is an individual practice, meditation can also be done in groups. Through it, you can focus on your third eye and turn your attention to a single point of reference, either your breath, bodily sensations or mantra (a word or phrase). In this way, you can turn your attention away from any distracting thoughts and focus on the present moment. This helps you change your brain waves by first changing your mind, relieve depression and change pain. Unsurprisingly, meditation can develop more intense feelings of happiness and intelligence. One thing is for sure – meditation is here to stay and it will continue for another 5000 years to come! What's not to love?

Read next:

5 Meditation Myths you have to stop believing

Feeling lonely? Try this Meditation exercise


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Discover the history of buddhist meditation and learn how to reach true mindfulness for your body, mind and spirit.

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