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A History of Meditation

There is limited knowledge concerning the history of meditation, but some researchers think that meditation could have been discovered when people sat at campsite fires thousands of years ago and looked at the flames. This theory goes well with the known fact that staring at a candle flame can induce one type of meditation. As time passed different forms of it were developed. Books from India called tantras speak of this type of prayer as far back as five thousand years ago. Archaeologists discovered a statue of a yogi in the Indus Valley Civilization and this shows that meditation in the practice of yoga could be as ancient as the first Indian civilization.

Buddha was a big advocate of meditation. He became established as a teacher about 500 B.C. His ideas were stretched into various Asian countries and in other places people created different forms of meditation based on his teachings. In Islam the Sufi tradition of meditation was purported and the leaders (Sufis) think that when Mohamed began Islam that is when meditation started with that religion. Meditation is part of Christianity, Jainism, Judaism, and aboriginal religions.

Zen Buddhism is a philosophy that advocates meditating to discover the meaning of life. Zen came from Buddhism and it has spawned Taoism, Confucianism, and Indian spiritualism. Taoism basically means the way. It began as a philosophy but ended up as a religion. Taoist meditation concentrates on stopping outward sensory information from coming into your mind. It utilizes breathing techniques. It has ideas that are like those of Hindu and Buddhist kinds of meditative thought. But it isn’t abstract like those types of meditation. The Confucian form of meditation is aimed at realizing virtue and it is meant to prevent disease and encourage health. Indian spiritualism involves yoga and mantras

In Christian meditation the word maranatha is used and it means the lord comes. Maranatha is an Aramaic word and this is the language that Jesus spoke. Ancient monks started this mantra and it is centered on Saint Paul’s writings to the Corinthians and the book of Revelation that Saint John penned.

In Christianity meditation has become known as contemplation. According to James Finley who was a Trappist monk for twenty years Christian meditation or contemplation began with the early Christians. They comprehended that when Jesus said that he and the father were one that they could experience something of this meaning by contemplation.

With the Protestant Reformation meditation or contemplative prayer was rejected along with other practices. But it is still understood as apart of the Christian tradition by the Catholic and Episcopal traditions. Actually, within the evangelical form of Christianity contemplation is a practice, but it isn’t thought of or described as such. Though when deep contemplative prayer is practiced and the practitioner inners into surrendering to the lord or prayer with serious surrender to the Lord, they are experiencing meditation in the Christian sense.

Meditation has a long history and is culturally diverse. It is part of many religious or philosophical traditions and it has become a part of the western secular culture.

Jane Michael is the head writer at the Center for Meditation. Concentrative for Less Frustration is her practice and her passion. Mantra Meditation for Physical ailments is a great way to start your meditation practice.

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