Meditation existed since the old ages. Its exact origin date is unknown, but it came from in India. After that, it became a common practice in many Asian countries. A significant event was Gautam Buddha’s enlightenment through meditation. As a result, Buddhism became a part of meditation history. The influence of Buddhism grew in countries like China and Japan. So they also adopted different forms of meditation.
When we talk about the history of meditation, it mostly includes Asia and the eastern part of the world. But meditation is just as popular in the west too. So how did this age-old practice enter the western nations? Read on to find out how meditation became a part of the present-day western culture.
The 17th Century – Beginning Of Meditation In The West
Meditation was a common practice in Asia since the BC era. But it reached the west in the 17th century. During this time, a few old age scriptures from the east got translated to English and other languages. These included Bhagavad Gita from India and some Buddhist scriptures.
As people in Europe and America read these books, they admired the concept of meditation. But still, it was just a topic of discussion. It was not put into practice by the people yet. However, such discussions acted as a base for the spread of meditation later on.
The 20th Century – Swami Vivekananda’s Influence In America
In 1893, Swami Vivekananda, a famous Indian yogi, gave a presentation at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, America. There, he also talked about meditation, its goal, and its benefits. His teachings inspired a lot of Americans. So they began to show interest in the art of meditation. Thus, this event played a vital role in western meditation history.
After that, meditation spread fast in the 20th century. Many yogis and gurus came to the west. They taught people how to meditate. People also liked the idea and practice of meditation. They found peace of mind and calmness through it. These events led to the beginning of meditation in western culture.
Some Changes In Western Meditation
Meditation was a part of spirituality in Indian culture. It was the case in the Buddhist culture of China too. But this concept changed when it shifted to the west. The people in those countries didn’t focus much on spirituality. They saw meditation as a scientific process. And they did not focus on the religious aspect. So people studied more about the meditation methods. As a result, it became a part of scientific studies.
This was in contrast to the Eastern culture. There, meditation was either a religious or spiritual practice. But in the west, it was seen as an exercise of the mind. Its health benefits were also studied by many. Soon, people began using meditation for illnesses. It could work as a remedy for depression and anxiety. Also, it improved the vital signs and made a person feel lively.
So this is how meditation made its way to western countries. The meditation history in the west is quite recent as compared to India and other Asian nations. And its concepts are also slightly different in both parts of the world. In the east, it’s seen as a spiritual practice. But the west has accepted it as a scientific and holistic method.