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History of Meditation
India was one of the earliest regions to practice organized meditation.
In China, the Yoga practice, called "dhyana" (a Sanskrit word meaning "concentrated meditation"), formed its own school among the Buddhists. Later this same philosophy traveled to Japan and became defined as Zen. Zen teaches that the potential to achieve enlightenment, is inherent in everyone but lies dormant because of ignorance. It is best awakened not by the study of scriptures, the practice of good deeds, rites and ceremonies, or worship of images but by a sudden breaking through of the boundaries of common, everyday, logical thought. The focusing of attention upon a visual image (e.g., a flower, a distant mountain) is a common technique in informal contemplative practice and has been formalized in several traditions. Tantric Buddhists of Tibet, for example, regard the mandala (a Sanskrit word meaning: "circle") as a collection point of universal forces accessible to man by meditation.
Christianity as its basis for meditation in what has become known over the centuries as the "Jesus Prayer". The "Jesus prayer" in Eastern Christianity became a mental invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, considered most effective when repeated as a type of mantra. The most widely accepted form of the prayer is "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me." It reflects the biblical idea that the name of God is sacred and that its invocation implies a direct meeting with the divine. The tradition of the Jesus prayer goes back to the "prayer of the mind," recommended by the ancient monks of the Egyptian desert, particularly Evagrius Ponticus (d. 339). It was continued as the "prayer of the heart" in Byzantine Hesychasm, a monastic system that seeks to achieve divine quietness. Since the 13th century, mental prayer was frequently connected with psychosomatic methods, such as a discipline of breathing. In modern times the practice of the Jesus prayer was popularized by the publication of the Philokalia (1782), an anthology of texts by various authors on mental prayer.
The use of prayer (Rosary) beads to help concentrate the mind towards the heavens is a good example. The Buddhist prayer wheel, and music play a highly ritualized role in many contemplative traditions.