The history of meditation is long and varied. Various cultures around the world have engaged in a plethora of practices throughout millennia of existence that can be considered forms of meditation. Most major religions have embraced the practice of mediation in various forms through out history, and non-religious movements have also followed in the practices of attaining enlightenment and a sense of peace with the world as a whole through meditation techniques. Because there are so many forms of meditation in which one can engage, the history of meditation is not one linear focus but instead a study of the various forms of meditation itself.
In artifacts that date to thousands of years in the past, there is evidence that meditation was practices throughout the world. In Eastern cultures, meditation practices including Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation and Tantra meditation have been practiced over many millennia. Even before those forms of meditation evolved, however, history speculates that meditation was an integral part of every day life. When studying the history of meditation, researchers have found that in hunting and gathering cultures, the practice of sitting around a communal fire by light and allowing the hypnotic affect of flame to take over, people may have been practicing meditation for as long as consciousness existed. The link between primitive cultures and meditative states is well supported by ancient forms of writing and artifacts that have been found and studied over time. In any occurrence where a practitioner uses any technique or substance to separate their conscious minds from their physical bodies, meditation is in practice.
Eastern cultures are thought to have developed meditation techniques hundreds of years before Western cultures. Through the teachings of Buddha, followers were able to understand the one of the greatest achievements in life is the obtaining of enlightenment. Through Buddhist meditation techniques, practitioners are able to leave behind every day worries and concerns and instead turn their contemplate inwards to the core of their own being, or outwards, towards the contemplation of the greater world that surrounds them. In either case, meditation became integral part of Eastern religions many centuries ago.
Within Western cultures, there is evidence of Christian monks and priests practicing various forms of deep prayer and relaxation techniques that lead to the practice of meditation. When a monk or priest becomes so elevated that they have ceased to worry about physical needs and are only contemplating the goodness of the world around them through the practices of common prayers, they have truly achieved a beneficial state of meditation.
Every day usage of meditation techniques in the world did not come about until the twentieth century. Within the history of meditation, this is still a very new occurrence, but as meditation continues to gain popularity, a greater population of people will be exposed to its lasting benefits.
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