Where Did Meditation Come From?
Meditation seems simple - relax, breathe, and reflect. But the incredible benefits and rich cultural history of mindful meditation techniques are multifaceted.
Originating in India thousands of years ago, meditation spread along the Silk Road, becoming an integral element in many religions and spiritual belief systems.
Hence, the diverse range of meditation forms, as each country or faith adapted it to fit their culture.
This article discusses how meditation evolved to be compatible with modern lives, remaining as relevant today as in the third millennium.
The Evolution Of Meditation
Ancient meditation practices stretch back through history, but they weren’t called meditation until around the 12th century AD, named from the Latin meditatum.
So, where exactly did meditation come from?
The Hindu Vedantic tradition first documented meditation in 1,500 BCE - but many historians believe it originated much earlier.
Forms of meditation were recorded in Taoist China and Buddhist India, between 600 and 500 BCE, as a central component in their societies’ spiritual life.
Since the origins of these early meditation forms, the practice has become increasingly popular, with around 10% of the American population having tried meditation.
In today’s world, meditation is far more accessible. You can meditate via a mobile app, online meditation group sessions, or book fitness classes that combine meditation with intense physical training!
The ethos, however, remains unchanged. Meditation allows you to disconnect from stresses and relentless stimulations and take the time to refocus on what’s happening inside your mind.
How Does Meditation Foster A Mind-Body Connection?
The point of meditation is that it allows the individual to reach a state of serene calm, with an objective view of their thoughts and feelings.
Once existing in the realm of fringe science, Western medicine first acknowledged meditation in the 1960s, following studies of experienced yogis who could reach such deep meditation that they were impervious to heat.
A study by a Harvard Medical School professor in 1967 quantified the physical benefits, finding that participants:
- Used 17% less oxygen
- Experienced lowered heart rates
- Produced sleep-beneficial brain waves
The same professor, Dr. Herbert Benson, launched the Mind/Body Medical Institute, paving the way for meditation to be accepted as a mainstream practice.
The Health Impacts Of Meditation
So, does meditation make you smarter? Let’s clarify that it can, but perhaps not in a linear way.
Some studies show that meditating thickens the prefrontal cortex - the part of our brains that handles memory and intelligence.
Meditating allows you to focus better and manage stress properly, so your brain can fire on all cylinders without barriers and blockages to impede your decision-making abilities.
Mindfulness practice can also:
- Increase your endorphin levels
- Enhance blood flow to the brain
- Reduce disordered thinking
Those combined benefits significantly improve energy levels and brain function so that meditators operate with improved concentration and awareness.
Lower brain activities decrease, which is why we see meditation used to support stress disorders and conditions.
Therefore, while your IQ score won’t necessarily increase with regular meditation, you may be perceived as a wiser person due to the calm and collected nature of your actions, state of mind, and behavior.
For further reading, check out our other articles like 4 Ways to Reclaim Your Juju and Get Your Vitality Back on Track.