The history of meditation is filled with controversy, as there is no proof on when meditation truly began. It is speculated that meditation began at the conception of fire, when humans would stare and meditate into the flames. However, there is no written proof of this being the case, or any established structure on how these possible meditations were done.
It is believed that the first written note, and thus the beginning of the history of meditation, began over five thousand years ago in India. No one is entirely certain which religious group began these meditations, as the evidence is the description of tantras that were noted as being performed. Whether or not there were tantras performed prior to five thousand years ago is uncertain, as these tantras may have been verbally passed down through the generations.
The modern history of meditation began in 500 B.C., when the Buddha began establishing his forms of meditations to the world. It was during Buddha’s time that meditation began to spread from India into other Asian countries. Eventually, these teachings would be passed to all of the countries of the world, making it one of the most widespread religions to date.
The teachings of the Buddha, birthed as Siddhartha Gautama, were faithfully transcribed by the monks who followed him shortly after his death sometime in 480 to 470 B.C. Many of the original teachings of the Buddha were passed down orally until his death, where they were scribed into a series of transcripts still used to guide Buddhists to this very day. Included in these writings is information on the lifestyles of ancient India, as well as the philosophies that are the foundation of the beliefs of modern Buddhists.
From the teachings of the Buddha, as well as from other sources in India, the history of meditation evolved into something more than one or two religions practicing the art. Now, there are hundreds of forms of meditation, both inside and outside the teachings of the Buddha, that allow people of all religions to enjoy meditation. Even Christianity has borrowed some of the aspects of the Asian meditations, notably through the use of prayer beads and holy mantras used during worship.
There is some speculation that some forms of meditation existed within the early biblical days, as some of the behaviors described in the Old Testament of the bible are very similar to some of the meditations practiced by Asian religions. It is unknown if there was any influences shared between Christianity and Asian religions, or if what was practiced in the Bible was truly forms of meditation.