The history of meditation is almost as mysterious as the art itself. Works of art discovered in India from 5,000 years ago depict figures in positions that mirror common yoga and meditation poses we still use today. The practice has undoubtedly been around for thousands of years and may even date back farther than we know.
Meditation is believed to have originally been aimed at spiritual enlightenment. The goal was to alleviate or end suffering while attaining peace. These ideals are still at forefront of modern efforts in meditation.
Disciplined meditation was almost exclusively an Asian practice until the 20th Century. Travel and communication were major obstacles that prevented the flow of information between eastern and western cultures. Eventually, though, the rise of commercial transport and technological leaps in communication allowed people of all regions, religions, and cultures to learn about the limitless potential of meditation.
Soon, meditation progressed rapidly through Asian culture with the influence of the icon Buddha. Most meditation teachings and practices in use today are derivatives of Buddha’s teachings and you simply cannot overstate the importance of Buddha’s influence on meditation and mindfulness, especially in the Western World.
There is no doubt that meditation is continuing to evolve. It has transcended regional boundaries and religious restrictions. Anyone can practice the ancient forms of meditation; not only for the original aims of alleviating suffering but also for self-development and personal mindfulness.
If you are interested in learning about meditative practices see our Ultimate Guide to Meditation!