From Religious to Mainstream: The Evolution of Meditation

Considering meditation’s ancient origins, it is surprising that its emersion as a chic, yet highly beneficial trend is just recently occurring. Time Magazine author, Ashley Ross, states that although “…the practice of meditating is rooted in a deep cultural history, [it is growing] from a religious idea to something that can now seem more stylish than spiritual.” With meditation studios popping up in cities like New York and Los Angeles (shout-out to the DEN meditation!), the ancient practice is becoming noticed as something more than just a fad.

Helpful in the workplace and the home, mindfulness and meditation are facets of self-compassion and understanding. Its history is long and deeply rooted in spirituality. It’s “global spread began along the Silk Road around about five or six centuries BCE, as the practice moved throughout Asia.”

Of course, the form of meditation varied globally as it molded to the culture it settled upon. In its expansion to the West, meditation was often belittled by Western scientists who – for ages – refused to believe it could actually produce physical health benefits. However, Dr. Herbert Benson, a professor at Harvard Medical School, conducted a study in 1967 that produced the following results: “People meditating used 17% less oxygen, lowered heart rates and produced increased brain waves that could help with sleep.” Research continued to find that meditation posed many benefits related the slowing or reversal of neurodegeneration, reduction of pain, and stress management.

As Transcendental Meditation (TM), “which a 1975 TIME story called a ‘drugless high,’” became popular amongst Hollywood’s finest – including The Beatles – India’s once spiritual practice was brought into the limelight. The 1960s and 70s were a time of soul-searching and experimentalism that led to the connection of “the scientific and celebrity sides of popular meditation.” The practice cut ties with the formerly religious context of meditation and found its way into the worlds of celebrities and athletes like Demi Moore, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, NBA coach Phil Jackson and Stephen Curry.

If meditation can work for them, it has the potential to work for you. The DEN’s meditation studio is a computable place to chill out, have a cup of tea, and take a meditation or mindfulness class. From morning (AM Energizer) to night (Candle Light Relax) the DEN offers a plethora of classes to fit our members’ individual wants and needs. All of our sessions are guided, or you can rent out a private room for just $5! If you’re a new DENizen, get your first month for only $40 to test the waters and find the class or workshop that works for you.


Reference: Ashley Ross, TIME, 3/9/2016: “How Meditation Went Mainstream

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