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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter elucidates the shared socio-cultural history of modern, therapeutic relaxation and meditation strategies. It demonstrates how the promulgation of relaxation therapies from the early twentieth century strongly influenced the later advancement of secularized, therapeutic meditation practices. It traces the development of scientifically grounded neuromuscular relaxation techniques, visualization methods and Autogenic Training in the first half of the twentieth century, through to the proliferation of modern yoga and Transcendental Meditation practices from the 1960s and mindfulness-based approaches from the late twentieth century. It shows how and why relaxation and meditation have been variously demarcated and amalgamated, in their common outreach to health-seeking Western populations. The chapter contributes a new historical vantage point for better understanding both the appeal and limitations of adapting and appropriating meditative techniques for therapeutic ends.

Keywords: relaxation therapy, modern yoga, mindfulness meditation, Transcendental Meditation, mind-body medicine

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