Discover the Amazing History of Meditation and What It Means Today

Meditation is an art form that goes back thousands of years. That’s part of the reason why contemporary practitioners talk about the many benefits of meditation because there is so much history behind meditation and how people perfect becoming mindful.

Due to this rich history, meditation masters developed many techniques that help you achieve a state of relaxation and inner peace. To that end, let’s examine the amazing history of meditation that leads us to what’s happening in meditation today.

Centuries Old

Meditation goes back more than 5,000 years. No wonder there is such a huge body of knowledge that contemporary masters have at their disposal.

Vedas of India

The first recorded mention of meditation comes from Vedic texts in India from about 1,500 BCE. After that, masters in China and Japan wrote about meditation, but experts generally credit Indian masters as the forerunners of the entire scope of meditation.


By 500 BCE, Buddhist monks were practicing meditation on a regular basis in Japan and China as the benefits of the form spread throughout Asia. Part of the spread of meditation goes back to 653 BCE when a monk by the name of Dosho returned to his native Japan after a visit to China. While in China, Dosho discovered Zen Buddhism and then brought his philosophies back to his homeland.

The spread of meditation throughout China and Japan fueled interest in meditation among Asian scholars who could read and write. This culminated in the publishing of the masterwork of yoga and meditation, the “Bhagavad Gita,” at around 400 BCE.

Spread to the West

By 20 BCE, Greek philosophers mentioned meditation in their texts. They often spoke of the importance in daily meditation. These philosophers considered meditation an important part of inward reflection.

Despite its widespread mention in written texts, early adoption of meditation usually occurred with religious scholars, yogis, and philosophers rather than the general populace. In fact, the word “meditation” is based on the Latin word “meditatum” which means “to ponder.”

Evolution to Today

It wasn’t until much later that meditation became a more accepted practice among ordinary people. When technology progresses and printing books became less expensive, more people had access to classic texts on meditation.

20th Century

In 1927, a book publisher translated the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” into English and other languages, and interest in meditation grew. At this point, meditation turned into a modern phenomenon. By the 1950s, the Vipassana movement started in Burma. This movement led to the publication of “Dharma Bums,” by beatnik writer Jack Kerouac, in 1958.

His book furthered the idea of meditation as the movement continued to spread. People in the United States began to take notice, and in the 1960s both transcendental meditation and Hatha-style yoga began to take root.

MBSR in America

In 1979, the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program started in America. This program promulgated the idea that people could use meditation to help ease the symptoms of chronic diseases, conditions and ailments.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, modern masters such as Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra rose to prominence with their bestselling books on how meditation enriches people’s lives and leads to higher qualities of life. In 2007, a survey noted that as many as 1 in 10 Americans, or around 9.4 percent, meditate in some fashion.

Deepak Chopra spoke and wrote about self-improvement and caught a lot of attention in the nation. Meditation techniques greatly reduce stress. When you take time each day to focus the mind, it slows down the rest of your body.

Mindfulness Meditation Now

Today, there are plenty of resources on mindfulness meditation that built on thousands of years of tradition, millions of pages of books and years’ worth of lessons. There are so many resources on mindfulness meditation, just about anyone can learn techniques for reducing stress, clearing the mind and becoming better people.

Explore Resources

Resources on the internet only further the spread of mindfulness meditation. Audiobooks, videos, music and meditation experts post their knowledge online for people to digest on their computers, smartphones and mobile devices.

Ironically, these contemporary technological tools help people unplug from the modern world as they learn how to meditate into their own inner thoughts. In addition to self-help resources, counselors and meditation masters set up centers where they teach what they know to people who attend classes and meditation centers.

There are even worldwide events, such as gatherings for peace, yoga, and meditation, that help get people interested in meditation. These events lead to better insights and understanding into our inner minds, but they also stand for trying to make a peaceful world amid the chaos, violence, and destitution that appears on the nightly news.

You can even do some local research and find a nearby class to attend. Meditation class usually offered at various time throughout the week. Find a friend to go with you or if you want to make it your own quiet time, go right ahead.

Explore Meditation Techniques

There are many different meditation techniques that people practice. Many of these techniques have been around for centuries. Use different resources around you, enroll in a local class, or get together with a friend and practice some helpful techniques.

A common technique is the breathing technique. Most people practice this in a quiet place while sitting down. You can even sit in a cross-legged position and close your eyes. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes. Keep your eyes closed and take slow, deep breaths.

Keep yourself focused on controlling your breath. Slowly inhale and then exhale. Focused breathing also helps increase blood flow throughout your body and brain. If your brain is getting more oxygen, you’ll think and concentrate better in your day.

Establishing a meditation practice with this technique and others will help you slow down and focus on life. Many people practice morning meditation to help them have a slow start to their day. Some people think of this as a form of self-discipline and improvement. If you do this, you’ll soon find that you make better choices throughout your day.

Do you want to learn how to meditate? Do you have too much stress in your life, or do you merely want to take a break from your world for a few minutes? Mindfulness meditation may be a quick, effective and easy way to find some measure of inner peace in today’s hectic world of deadlines, ballet recitals, meetings, and long commutes. We encourage you to use our tips and even research other meditation techniques on your own.

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