Archaeologists in the Indus Valley discovered evidence of meditation in wall art dating from 5,000 to 3,500 BCE, according to Psychology Today. And while meditation has been practiced in other parts of the world like Egypt and China for centuries, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that it was popularized here in the West.
For that, we can thank a number of researchers, but most notably, Dr. Herbert Benson, for leading pioneering studies that highlighted the various health benefits of meditation (like lowered heart rates and increased brain waves that help with sleep).
Those early studies combined with celebrity fans (like the Beatles, who famously practiced Transcendental Meditation in the late '60s), brought meditation into mainstream consciousness, where it remains today. But if you know anything about meditation, you know that it’s not a one-size-fits-all practice, and there are actually many distinct types. Read on for seven of the most popular variations, plus who each one is best for. (Of course, meditation is an ancient, often deeply spiritual practice, so this should just be considered a very broad introduction, not a foundational text.)