Word and Phrase Origins
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Meditation and Yoga

What are the origins of the word 'meditation'?

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September 11, 2010 6:12AM

The word meditate stems from the Latin root meditatum, i.e. to ponder. In the old Testament means to sigh or murmur, but also to meditate. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, hāgâ became the Greek melete. The Latin Bible then translated hāgâ/melete into meditatio. The use of the term meditatio as part of a formal, stepwise process of meditation goes back to the 12th century monk Guigo II

Apart from its historical usage, the term meditation was introduced as a translation for Eastern spiritual practices, generally referred to as dhyana, which comes from the Sanskrit root dhyai, meaning to contemplate or meditate. The term "meditation" in English may also refer to practices from Islamic sufism or other traditions such as Jewish Kabbalah and Christian Hesychasmrecent Aedited book about "meditation", for example, included chapter contributions by authors describing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and Taoist traditions. Scholars have noted that "the term 'meditation' as it has entered contemporary usage" is parallel to the term "contemplation" in Christianity.

Meditation is a holistic discipline during which time the practitioner trains his or her mind in order to realize some benefit.

Meditation is generally a subjective, personal experience and most often done without any external involvement, except perhaps prayer beads to count prayers. Meditation often involves invoking and cultivating a feeling or internal state, such as compassion , or attending to some focal point , etc. The term can refer to the process of reaching this state, as well as to the state itself.