Much like yoga, the history of meditation and mindfulness is ancient and spiritual, originating in religion. Meditation predates even ancient times, having its origins in prehistoric religions that involved rhythmic chants, or mantras. But the earliest records of meditation can be found in the Vedas, the oldest texts of Hinduism, dating from 1700-1100 BCE. Later on, different forms of meditation began developing in Buddhism and Taoism, mainly in India and China.
Ancient meditation focused on spiritual growth and transcending emotions to live in a calm present state. After being introduced to the West in the 20th century, meditation was realigned to match the goals of a modern, secular society — and it was soon used as a way to reduce stress and improve healthy living, similar to the Western world's version of yoga.
watch your thoughts
"Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they're doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in," says Professor Williams. "It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn't about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events. "Imagine standing at a bus station and seeing 'thought buses' coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible. "Some people find that it is easier to cope with an over-busy mind if they are doing gentle yoga or walking."
different mindfulness & meditation practices
As well as practising mindfulness in daily life, it can be helpful to set aside time for a more formal mindfulness practice. Ultimately mindfulness and meditation is finding a place of quiet in your mind. There's no need to set rules on how best to be mindful or find a place to meditate. Whether it's 5 minutes or 1 hour, or sat with your legs crossed burning incense...or sat on a busy train on your commute to and from work. You can find calm in your mind when you choose.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on being in the present, such as focusing completely on drinking a hot cup of tea, taking in its scent, warmth, and taste and removing overpowering emotions from the mind.