Meditation can be broadly defined as the process of learning to concentrate your attention on a single point of focus. There are many ways of doing this, it is a matter of finding a method that works for you and that you personally resonate with. Many people have a misperception of meditation as an impossible exercise that requires you to completely clear your mind. Beginners state that they cannot meditate because their mind is too full of thoughts. In reality, a completely clear mind does not happen all the time, and it is easiest especially for the beginner, not to insist that this is the goal of your practice. In fact, many unconscious emotions, thoughts, and other psychological information can be dealt with (and cleared) in the process of meditation, and this is completely normal and beneficial. The benefits of mediation accumulate over time as a result of the process of meditation. So the important thing to remember is to stay disciplined and to go back to the point of focus when your mind wanders. Think of a thought as an item to put aside in a “basket” in your mind (or another image that works for you.) You notice the thought, emotion, insight, etc and set it aside, returning to your original point of focus. With practice and time, this process becomes easier, and you will notice your ability to focus improves, in addition to many other benefits. Remember that the “goal” is not necessarily to have a blank mind, the goal is to sit down and meditate, to be with what is, and allow the process to work for you.
There are many types of meditations from different spiritual and religious traditions from around the world. Meditation is especially significant in Buddhism and Hinduism, but there are contemplative traditions in the more mystical versions of Western religions also (Judaism, Christianity and Islam.) Techniques range from noticing and focusing on your breathing, to cultivating a sense of body awareness (for example, of bodily sensations), to focusing on a single external point such as a candle flame, or walking meditation, which focuses on movement. Not all meditations are still, silent, or internally focused. Meditations can also be “guided” which involves someone else taking the participant through a visualization for a specific purpose (such as clearing a personal issue, connecting with your guides, exploring past lives, balancing the chakras, or simply for stress relief and relaxation.) I do offer guided meditations that are custom designed to your needs and interests–you come to my office and go through the meditation as I guide you, in a peaceful and relaxing environment. One of the services I love to offer, that gets you in touch with yourself, and I so enjoy being a facilitator for that! 🙂
One of the primary results gained from meditation is the ability to focus and concentrate, but depending on the tradition of the form of mediation practiced, meditation can be said to have different goals (even though many of them have similar effects.) In the Eastern religious traditions that goal can be said to be enlightenment (or achieving a union with the Divine.) Meditation however achieves many things and has an amazing list of benefits. Your goals and reasons for mediating do not have to involve any spiritual or religious ideas or be focused on enlightenment, and you will still gain the benefits. I also coach my psychic development students in meditation, as it is the number one means of developing your ability.