The word “meditation” is from the Proto-Indo European root “*med-,” meaning “take appropriate measures.”
Wall art in the Indus Valley dating from 3,500 BC depicts one of the earliest records of meditation. The images show figures sitting in classic yoga poses, with crossed legs, hands resting on knees, and slightly closed eyes.
Meditation inspires social connections, improves empathy and kindness, increases helpfulness, and increases resilience and mental endurance, even in children.
Meditation can help relieve lower back pain more effectively than other standard treatments, such as over-the-counter or prescription medications, hot and cold compresses, and, in some cases, surgery.
Just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation daily can help reduce distracting thoughts for people with anxiety.
While meditation benefits both genders, women show greater decreases in negative thinking (guilt and irritability) and greater increases in self-compassion and mindfulness.
Because meditation stimulates the neocortex and reduces stress, it can profoundly enhance creativity and innovation.
Meditation is painful in the beginning but it bestows immortal Bliss and supreme joy in the end. – Swami Sivananda
Meditation increases cortical thickness, particularly in areas related to attention and introspection.
Meditation reduces activity in the default mode network (DMN), which is the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and “me” thinking.
Mindful-based meditation (in contrast to focusing on breathing only) changes areas in the brain that help relieves social anxiety.
Compared to the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking® program, mindful meditation helped people quit smoking permanently at a much higher rate.
In 1968, the Beatles wrote most of the White Album while studying meditation with the controversial guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India.
Meditation fights aging in all regions of the brain.
The brains of longtime meditators are less affected by aging than the brains of those who do not meditate.
Deepak Chopra, MD, set the world record for the largest online meditation in history. According to the Guinness team, 33,061people (both physically present and via live-stream) meditated together for 30 minutes.
While noting that meditation does not take the place of standard medicine, physicians have observed that meditation helps prevent heart disease and heart attack. It can also help keep blood pressure low.
The Walt Disney Company was one of the first companies to incorporate meditation into its workplace. The company noticed a dramatic increase in creativity after employees meditated on specific projects and ideas.
General Mills offers weekly meditation and yoga classes to its employees. It also has a dedicated meditation room in every building on its campus.
A Buddhist meditation technique known as loving kindness meditation (LKM) directed toward another race reduces racial bias.
Meditation has religious ties in Egypt and China. It also plays a role in Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism.
The Silk Road is primarily responsible for the early spread of meditation, in about the fifth or sixth century BC. As the practice of meditation arrived in a new region, it would transform to fit the particular culture.
In addition to improving mental health, meditating can also help reduce money-related stress and decrease the urge to impulse shop.
While meditation and Buddhism are almost synonymous in the West, the majority of Buddhists, past and present, haven’t regularly performed meditation practices. Traditionally, only ordained Buddhist nuns and monks practiced meditation.
Meditation can have dangerous psychological and physical effects. Some practitioners have experienced hallucinations, psychotic episodes, depression, and other mental and physical impacts, especially if the practitioner has a pre-existing mental or physical condition.
While many religions practice meditation, its possible to meditate no matter what your religious affiliation is and without violating any religious principles that you may hold.
Unlike simply sitting on your couch or lying in your bed, meditation produces specific chemical changes in the brain. Transcendental meditation, for example, releases a soothing hormone known as prolactin.
Of the several types of meditation, the most popular type in the West is mindful meditation. Originating with Buddhist teachings, this type of meditation combines awareness with concentration and can easily be practiced alone.
Of the various types of meditation, the following six are the most popular: mindfulness, spiritual, focused, movement, mantra, and transcendental.
One of the most common and sacred symbols in the meditation tradition is the Om or Aum. Om represents the consciousness of the universe condensed into sound.
The sound of OM encompasses all words, all sounds in human language.
Practitioners of yoga and meditation show improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption, and resilience, which helps improve the immune system.
Zen monks who practised long-term meditation showed an improved sense of touch.
A common meditation symbol is the mandala, which is a geometric construction of points, lines, and shapes that symbolize the universe. It acts as a visual point of concentration and symbolizes the sound of creation, the Om.
The lotus flower is an important symbol in the meditation tradition and represents the ability to rise above difficulty and to bloom in enlightenment. Practitioners often imagine their heart as the flower, unfolding in the center of their chest.
Caring for your garden can be a great form of mindfulness meditation. By connecting with the earth, you can cultivate a healthy mind and feel calm and connected.
Meditation can be practiced in four positions: sitting, lying down, standing, or walking. Sitting still is not a prerequisite for meditation.
Practitioners of meditation use a mantra (a word or phrase) to help focus their thoughts. One common mantra is the word hamsa, which means “I am the pure, unchanging, godly subject.”
Chakra meditation focuses on placing the seven chakras of the body in harmony. The word “chakra” is Sanskrit for “wheel,” which symbolizes smooth movement, power, and harmony.
A Georgia elementary school has banned the word “Namaste” from its school after parents complained such words encourage non-Christian beliefs.