Back to Basics: The Ancient Origins of Meditation

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Photo via Mariano Vivanco

Photo via Mariano Vivanco

Is it just me or are meditation classes popping up at the same pace froyo shops did in 2005? 

Meditation might be the newest wellness “trend,” and I personally love teaching meditation classes—but let’s be honest, this practice is far from new, and human beings around the globe have been meditating since the dawn of day.

This article on Deepak Chopra’s site, shows that the earliest origins of meditation date back to 5000 BCE, and the first recorded evidence of meditation dates back to 1500 BCE—stemming from the heart of ancient India.

While a strong group meditation practices might be new to the West, these sessions have been taking place in the East since 600 BCE, especially in Taoist China and Buddhist India.

Keep in mind that this pre-dates the work of Rene Descartes (1596-1650), who is said to be the “Father of Modern Day Philosophy,” and is listed as one of the Top Greatest Philosophers in history in this Listverse article.

Rene Descartes is the man who popularized the idea and belief that the mind is stronger than the body—a concept that is regularly mentioned, talked about, and practiced in today’s mindfulness courses and yoga practices.

So what has opened the door to this modern influx of meditation studios and meditation classes? The influx of meditation coverage by the western media.

Chopra’s origins of meditation timeline shows that as an influx of books surrounding mindfulness came out in western markets in the late ‘90s, the practice of meditation in the west began to rise.

Books such as Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, and Deepak Chopra’s The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, sparked media conversations surrounding the topics of mindfulness and meditation. This topic has made it as far as Oprah Winfrey’s TV shows and has been the topic of streams of conversation on the conservatively facing Fox News Network.

So, what do you need to know about meditation?

  • It’s not a fad, the practice predates the emergence of modern day religions and the development of the modern English language.
  • It’s a non-denominational practice, as it is not associated with any one religion.
  • Group meditation is a practice so old that it can be considered the “original” form of mindfulness.
  • Meditation is now more easily accessible, so you have every opportunity to connect with ancient mindfulness techniques, whether it is via YouTube or in a class.
  • There are a variety of meditation techniques (visualization, grounding, mantra meditation, and many more) for you to try, test, and embrace.