What is Meditation?
Meditation is a centuries-old mental exercise in which a person uses mindfulness to improve attention, awareness, and emotional stability. The practice of meditation originated from ancient Eastern traditions, such as Ayurvedic practices in India and traditional Japanese and Chinese medical remedies.
Meditation is to the mind what physical exercise is to the body. To meditate is to learn to observe one’s thoughts and bring stillness to the mind.
Meditation teaches you to recognize and accept your thoughts and feelings without turning them off or condemning them. The goal of meditation is to learn to ignore your thoughts entirely and achieve a transcendent state of peace and calm.
To still your thoughts and feelings, you should practice some form of meditation daily, even if it is only for a few minutes.
There is no such thing as a perfect reflection. It is entirely normal to lose focus on your thoughts or breath from time to time. The most important thing is that you are willing to meditate and do so regularly.
If you are a beginner, familiarize yourself with the different types of meditation.
History of Meditation
The earliest written records of meditation come from India, around 1500 BC. Back then, meditation was used in Vendatism as a way to attain spiritual enlightenment. Vendatism is one of the earliest known school of Indian philosophy. In around 5th and 6th centuries BC, other forms of meditation are known to be practiced within China and India.
The exact origins of meditation are extensively debated, particularly Buddhist meditation. According to researchers, the sutras of the Pāli Canon contain early written accounts of meditation in Buddhism India. The Pāli Canon is a collection of scriptures from the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Also, some historical evidence has linked meditation with Judaism, which originated from its earlier traditions. For instance, the Torah describes the patriarch Isaac going to ‘lasuach’ in a field. This word is generally intepreted as an act of meditative practice.
Westerners first began to be interested in meditation in the 17th century, when some of the Eastern philosophy texts, containing links to meditative practices, were translated into many European languages.
Meditation started to become more popular in the 20th century, especially in America, when a famous yogi, Swami Vivekananda, presented a talk at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The talk started a new surge of interest in Eastern spirituality for Westerners, and influenced many other spiritual teachers from India to live in America.
Since its introduction in the United States, meditation became less associated from Eastern spirituality and was taught in more westernized ways. By the 1960s and 1970s, meditation was being scientifically researched, further distancing from its spiritual roots and promoting the practice to be used by anyone, not just those seeking spiritual fulfillment.
Why You Should Meditate?
Nowadays, with so many negative and stressful events a person has to deal with in the modern world such as a quarrel with your spouse or children, a bad medical report, terrorism or the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard not to get stressed out, agitated and frustrated at the end of the day. Meditation can help you manage such challenges by soothing, relaxing and calming you down. It can help you regain a sense of control in a world that is uncertain, challenging, stressful and demanding. While meditation can’t cure certain conditions such as depression and back pain, it can at least reduce the perceived intensity of the underlying symptoms. If you are new to meditation, find out more about the benefits of meditation here!
Types of Meditation
There are many types of meditative practice out there to calm yourself down and make yourself feel relaxed, how do you pick one that suits you the most? The selection of a certain form of meditative practice is a personal preference, so don’t feel discouraged or give up when you lose interest in one form. From mindfulness meditation to mantra meditation, there is certainly something for everyone. Learn more about the various types of meditation here.