Perhaps as ancient as the Bible itself, the history of meditation has been recorded going back thousands of years. While no accurate data exists on its origination, many speculate on its roots.
The Buddha has been long recognized as an icon in the history of meditation; dating back to 500 B.C. After living a luxurious life in his early years with his father, Siddhartha became familiar with the realities of life outside of his upbringing. He determined that life was mired with sorrow and suffering, and declared abstinence from worldly pleasures to pursue more spiritual goals. Upon discovering that the opposite end of the scale he chose was not the answer to end life's suffering, he instead traversed to the middle ground between luxury and asceticism. Siddhartha was 30 years old when he found "enlightenment", or Nirvana; a heightened level of awareness attained through meditation. He spent the remainder of his lifetime teaching his methods to many people, gaining a following of thousands of individuals.
Teachings from the Buddha spread through the Eastern world in many different forms. Since there was no formal set of guidelines, the adoption of the teachings in diverse areas branched out to form many doctrines over the next 400 years. Even so, several thousands of years still passed before the Western world learned of the history of meditation and all of its principles.
Researchers who have spent years studying the history of meditation have also learned that its practice was documented by Indians, although called Tantra by these people. Historical theories include that meditation and varying states of consciousness were achieved by ancestral people who would focus on flames in campfires, transcending their thoughts into ideals and plans of action.
Meditation as it exists today also takes many forms; likely through its loose formation and development in early years after the Buddha's teachings ceased. Each variation is as valuable and effective for its followers as the next, serving to balance emotional and physical energies of the body and mind. The history of meditation has evolved into a technique that can help people sleep, overcome depression, eliminate stress and anxiety and achieve overall peace of mind. It has also been essential in assisting individuals in conquering illnesses such as smoking, weight, drug issues and alcoholism. For many, meditation is a means of dealing with the everyday pressures that the world imposes; centering them and helping them to regain composure and joy in their life.
While it is true that no one knows how far back the history of meditation extends, it is known that the art has developed over time into one of the most practiced techniques in the world. Books, lectures, seminars and classes that teach the methods of meditation are available to all who seek inner peace; the same goal sought by millions throughout the history of meditation.