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Meditation practices develop mental focus, which is used for the attainment of particular states of consciousness. Meditation is most readily associated with Hinduism and Buddhism; however, it is also practiced in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, numerous indigenous traditions, and a variety of new religious movements. The global dissemination of meditation practice is traced in this entry from India through China as well as from the Middle East through Europe and the Americas.

India: Yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Tantra

Among the earliest representations of meditation practice are figures sitting in what appear to be meditative postures on seals from archaeological sites in the Indus Valley civilization (ca. 2700 BCE). The first extensive recorded treatment of meditation practice in Hinduism is found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (100 ...

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