Vedic Hinduism is considered the cradle of the most ancient meditation practices. Their beginnings date back even before the second millennium BC in the Punjab region (between present-day India and Pakistan). In the heterogeneous cultural context of the Indian mystical tradition of the Vedanta masters, based on texts such as the Vedas and Upanishads, meditation was born as a search for a practical-philosophical reconciliation between pain and existence.
Achieving happiness is the purpose of life, but it is continually undermined by the bodily nature of the human being which causes him perennial pain. The way to free oneself from suffering can be indicated by a sage or an ascetic by showing the exercise of knowledge or contemplative techniques such as yoga, which over time take shape and spread throughout the East.
The historical founder of Buddhist meditation is considered to be Siddhartha Gautama (the one who has achieved his goal), a native of present-day southern Nepal, who worked at the turn of 500 and 400 BC in the Himalayan region. Buddhist meditation from India will arrive in China, and in Central Asia in the first century AD, to reach Japan from the second century AD.
The benefits of meditation practice are now scientifically proven and widely accepted and range from stress reduction to mental and physical healing. There are many meditation techniques, some require specific training but for the most part they are simple to learn and accessible to everyone.
Meditation can be divided into two macro groups: focusing and monitoring. The two meditative approaches tend to interpenetrate, there will never be a clear distinction between them but they determine how attention is used in practice. A focus-based practice involves focusing attention on something in particular: an image, a part of the body, a mantra, breath, etc. A practice based on monitoring directs attention to observing one’s own thoughts in a non-judgmental way, that is, it leads to watching thoughts as they flow without getting involved. The meaning of meditation can be understood, in the Western tradition, as focusing on one point. Another meaning is pure contemplation, without a specific object of interest. Both of these methods have one main intent in common: it is in fact, through different techniques, to calm the mind, so that all obstacles that lead to the realization of our true nature are removed.
The practice of meditation, if genuine and constant, leads us to experience our true nature as a sense of infinite peace, imbued with joy and love.
All techniques handed down over the centuries by different cultures want to lead to the state of conscious presence applied to everyday life so that every event, every action is lived only for what it is.