An Ancient Greek Look at Meditation

As an Ayurvedic practitioner I get told more often than not

I just can’t sit down and meditate, my mind is all over the place.

I am going to attempt to address this in as short of a time as possible, while making sense.

What is Meditation? In contemporary literature, as well as in day to day conversation, the term meditation is often used in a non-specific sense. Meditation is yet to be precisely defined. However, in its abstract definition, meditation is often described as “a fundamental method to purify the mind and to expand consciousness progressively proceeding towards the possibility of discovering the infinite and merging of the finite consciousness into it.

Wow… 🙂 A lot of abstraction… 🙂 Definitions and statements like the one above is what leads to a lot of the mysticism and the subsequent confusion surrounding meditation.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is a very simple concept. Meditation was a very common practice in Ancient Greece. The Greek word for meditation was “melete“. Melete was the term referring to disciplined study, a mental exercise or an exercise in thought. However, according to the Ancient Greeks every human action, or behavior had to have a higher purpose. As such, an exercise in thought, would be considered pointless if it were not for a certain goal.

In fact, in Greek mythology, they were often referring to three Muses, Melete being one of them. The other two were her sisters, Mneme (memory) and Aoide (song, voice). Our memory, our capacity to reflect upon, gives us the ability to understand situations and relationships, among what is past, present, and possible. Our spoken word gives us the ability to share with others that which is conceptualized.

If you contemplate on it for a moment, you will realize that these three sisters represent the three gifts of the human mind — that of mental exercise, reflection, and vocalization. Furthermore, they remind us that disciplined study of anything, without reflection or without the ability to vocalize our words is useless.

So get off your butt, quit trying to empty your mind, find something worth doing, discipline yourself in studying it, reflect upon it, share what you learned with others, and you will experience the bliss of true meditation.

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