What is Meditation?
Much has been said and written about meditation, yet it takes years to understand its nature. It cannot be taught, just as sleep cannot be taught. One has to gather the conditions for sleep to happen; proper space, bed, lighting, etc., then assume the posture of sleep and apply some techniques to calm the mind for sleep to come by itself. When we are asleep, we will not know that we are sleeping. If we know that we are sleeping, we are no longer sleeping. It is the same for meditation. We have to prepare the conditions for meditation to happen, adopt a positive pure lifestyle, assume the posture daily, and apply the techniques and when meditation happens we will not be aware of it. Before beginning, have a proper environment and attitude. Your space for meditation, schedule, physical health and mental state all reflect a readiness to turn inward. Many difficult obstacles are removed by creating a setting, which is conducive to meditation.
Meditation is at the core of the practice of yoga. It is both its main tool and its ultimate destination. The classical approach to the yogic path of meditation is called raja yoga. This knowledge dates from very ancient times and has been handed down from generations through an unbroken lineage of teachers. The following are practical points regarding the basic techniques and stages of meditation. They are primarily intended for the beginner, although the most experienced meditator will find a review of them useful.
It’s best to reserve a special portion of a room or a separate room only for meditation. Maintain it as a clean and tidy space, free from distracting vibrations and associations. Face north or east to take advantage of favorable magnetic vibrations. Set up a focal point ‐ simple but beautiful ‐ to help to create a sacred space.
The regularity of time, place and practice are most important. Regularity conditions the mind to slow down its activities with minimal delay. The most effective times are dawn and dusk. The most desirable time is brahmamuhurta (between 4 and 6 am). In this quiet time after sleep, the mind and the atmosphere are clear and unruffled by activities of the day. Choose a time when you can retreat from daily activities to calm your mind.
The Sitting Position
Sit in a comfortable steady posture, with spine and neck erect but not tense. The psychic current needs to travel unimpeded from the base of the spine to the tip of the head, helping to steady the mind and encourage concentration. A comfortable cross‐legged posture provides a firm base for the body. It makes a triangular path for the flow of energy, which must be contained rather than dispersed in all directions. The practice of asana will strengthen your back, making it easy to sit comfortably. Metabolism, brain waves and breathing will slow down as concentration deepens.
Consciously try to relax and make your breathing rhythmic. Begin with a few deep abdominal breaths to bring oxygen to the brain. Then inhale for three seconds and exhale for three seconds, then slow it to an imperceptible state. The breath becomes light and completely silent. This technique steadies the prana and quiets the mind.
Reference: Meditation and Mantras by Swami Sivananda
Please read How to start meditation?