History of Meditation
The exact origins of meditation are not known, although it is well known that meditation dates back many centuries in history. The earliest written record of meditation can be found in the Hindu scriptures that are 5,000 years old. This happens immediately around the first time when Lord Buddha was mentioned, and soon afterwards it started to be practiced across the Asian subcontinent.
Meditation in Hinduism
Meditation actually began as a component of Hinduism of the Vedic Age. Hinduism is the oldest faith that has meditation as an integral part for mental and spiritual enlightenment. The scriptures of India from 5,000 years back actually give a proper description of the meditative techniques that were practiced at that time.
Yoga, out of the 6 Hindu philosophy schools, happens to be the one concentrating on meditation. But Hinduism has different kinds of meditation techniques, and each of these has a specific focus on the subject. The overall aim for any meditation practice in Hinduism is to achieve a calm mental state.
Meditation in Buddhism
Thousands of years ago, Gautama Buddha – or Siddhartha Gautama as he was known as a prince – established Buddhism. He was originally a prince who enjoyed all kinds of material wealth, but he escaped his palace life to begin his journey in spiritual enlightenment. After he meditated for 49 days under a fig tree, Siddhartha got enlightenment and became the Buddha. It let him have more insight into the actual reasons for human suffering, and the process necessary for alleviating the same.
Since the enlightenment of Buddha, meditation has become of prime importance in Buddhism. The techniques of meditation pursued by Buddhists help them in their objectives of attaining Nirvana or Enlightenment. In practitioners, these develop the important areas of:
However, the same methods are used often by people of other religion for physical and mental betterment, or to attain other spiritual objectives.
Meditation in Christianity
Although meditation might not be heard much in Christianity, a few Christian traditions may be put in the category of meditation. Ancient monks in this faith practiced slow and careful reading of the Bible to understand the significance of every verse, through a practice known as “lectio divina.” This is regarded widely as the first ever instance of meditation in the Christian faith. Christians also regard prayer as a type of meditation.
Meditation in the Modern Age
Although the Americans have – for many decades – known about this practice, it was only in the 1960s and ‘70s that this practice began to be popular. The popularity of meditation got a boost with many cultural icons exploring the many Eastern practices and traditions at that time – such as The Beatles who stayed in India for some time and got tutelage under a great sage. As it started to be more popular, it started to be acknowledged as a type of holistic medicine. It is now commonly used to help the healing process of an individual, and lower stress levels.