“You’ll find all kinds of thoughts. The point, however, is not to think anything, but to get down there. We don’t know what would happen to a killer who did it – maybe meditation would change his mind, you know. We don’t know about that; you should ask Maharishi about that. But it’s the proper good. And it’s simple.” — Beatle John Lennon describing meditation in 1967 interview.
The practice of meditation has been a powerful influence in almost every religion. It has been a tool used by many spiritual seekers through the ages. It is a source of peace, calmness, heightened awareness, and transformation for the body, mind, and spirit. Any person that is seeking to be a part of the metaphysical world should consider meditation as the way into that world.
Today we are living in a high-stress environment. People are often overworked, in a hurry, and just plain depressed. The demands of the digital age take a toll on both health and happiness.
We are too busy, too frustrated, and often overcome by negative thinking.
The solution to these myriad problems may be simpler than we think. Although the practice of meditation is not a cure-all, it most certainly can have a powerful effect.
Meditation in Ancient Times
It may have been in the cave drawings of primitive man where the concept of meditation is first displayed. It is speculated that as early man tended the fire throughout the night, it created a meditative state of mind. The cave drawings show the caveman's visions brought on by that altered state.
Meditation is wrapped around the roots of many early religions. Ancient Hindu texts teach the basics of meditation and reveal how it was being practiced thousands of years ago.
For all practical purposes, the ancient Japanese spiritual beliefs and meditation practices are now known as Zen. Chinese meditation has developed into the belief system of Taoism.
Buddhist philosophy encourages a disciplined form of meditation. One of the most famous pieces of ancient art shows the Buddha sitting underneath a banyan tree gaining enlightenment.
Jewish meditation is an ancient tradition that has been practiced for centuries and revealed in the Torah’s Book of Genesis.
It’s surprising how powerful the age-old tradition of meditation can be. Here are three very interesting facts to help you understand where meditation came from and why you should meditate.
1. Meditation has been medically proven to have health benefits.
Although it is often recommended, most people don’t realize that meditation has tremendous health benefits. The number one reason to meditate is for your health.
But don't underestimate the spiritual impact. Enlightenment has always been important. And most people that meditate feel that they are getting peace of mind and spiritual inspiration from the practice.
Contemplation or meditation has been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on health. In the last 50 years, there has been extensive research and study that supports this fact. There are no known negative effects.
It has been very well documented that meditation has positive effects in every area of the mind-body-spirit dynamic.
Chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, as well as some compulsive behaviors like overeating and alcoholism can be reduced through practicing meditation. Depression, insomnia, stress, and anxiety are also treatable in many cases through meditation.
2. The Beatles helped spread Transcendental Meditation to the West.
“Maharishi happened to be having a seminar in Bangor and had said, ‘Come tomorrow, and I’ll show you how to meditate.’ So, the next day we jumped on a train and went.” — Beatle George Harrison in 1967 Interview.
It was 1967 and the Beatles from England were the most popular singing group in the world. They had millions of fans, fame, and fortune. Their celebrity resulted in a huge interest in meditation.
John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney were still putting out hit albums and touring the world with their unique style.
It was by accident that John and George met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi was one of the first wave of experts on Transcendental Meditation. He was an Indian teacher and spiritual leader. He was on a lecture tour in the UK.
The Beatles all decided they wanted to learn to meditate. They were the first celebrity guests in the Maharishi’s retreat in Rishikesh, India. They learned to meditate. They told people about their experience (especially in an interview with David Frost), and many of their fans became interested.
The rest is history.
3. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig was one of the major influences of Eastern meditation practices in the West.
The book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was first published in America in 1974. It may well have been the first book about meditation and Eastern philosophy to become a mainstream bestseller.
The author used his main characters (a father and his son) to personify two forms of meditation. He detailed the son who was always “in the moment” as the Zen personality.
His other character, the wiser father, was more focused in the “seeing clearly” tradition of Vipassana. Vipassana can be translated to "insight." It trains one to gain understanding and acceptance through self-awareness.
Pirsig’s philosophical, non-fiction book has continued to find readers after 40 years. In fact, it is now being touted as a tech industry “must read”. It offers powerful lessons that recommend living an authentic life. The idea that meditation should be a basic tool for living continues to appeal to East and West alike.