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History of meditation

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

Meditation started in the South-East Asia in approximately 500BC around the time Gautama Buddha (aka Siddhārtha Gautama)was alive. Some believe that the first practitioners of meditation were hunter gatherers and Shamans. However, it was Guatama Buddha that made the biggest impact by introducing and developing meditation. For this reason, the practice became associated with Buddhism.

According to Guatama Buddha, there are three tasks that, when practiced together, result in awakening or enlightenment and meditative concentration is one of them. As Buddhism developed, people who found value in the teachings began spreading them to others. Seekers of this type of enlightenment and wisdom heard about it and would travel to its area of origin to learn from the greatest teachers and would then bring what they learned back to their homes. These teachings then began to adjust and adapt to the specific cultures of where they were taken to. For example, Zen meditation began when a Japanese monk traveled to China to study Buddhism. When he returned to Japan, he started teaching a form of sitting meditation that is known as Zazen.

It wasn’t until the mid-20thcentury however, that meditation spread to the west. The movement in the west started largely with the hippies the same way it did in the past – learning teachings and then sharing them. Since then, meditation has spread to where it is today.


“A Short But Fascinating History Of Meditation: 4 Key Points.” EOC Institute,

“Where Does Meditation Come From? Meditation History & Origins.” Mindworks, 21 Apr. 2019,



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