Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life forceor prana and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration single-pointed analysis, meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.
Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state-such as anger, hatred, etc.-or cultivating a particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion. The term “meditation” can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state. Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.” In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices.
Nisargadatta Maharaj explains Spiritual practice
…doing Sadhana [spiritual practice] means assuming the existence of a phantom. Who is to do Sadhana and for what purpose? Is it not enough to see the false as false? The entity that you think you are is false. You are the reality. Once it is understood, or rather, apperceived intuitively, that an entity is purely a conceptual notion, what remains is merely a re-integration — Yoga — in universality…
What remains is pure non-volitional ‘being lived’…
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj explained sadhana
Listening: Paying close attention to the teaching of the Sadguru invariably brings change. This is exemplified in the dialog between Sri Krishna and Arjuna as described in the Gita. Arjuna listened carefully even while fighting a war, and was liberated. There is no need to listen once the change is complete.
Bhajans: The chitta (inner mind) is purified by the words and singing of devotional songs. Worldly thoughts are at abeyance at such time. For some people this is the best practice.
Chanting: Silently reciting the name of a chosen deity, or a mantra (secret set of words given by a Guru), while paying attention to the breath. A mantra is usually given during the initiation of a seeker. Since mind and breath are closely related, prana – the life force, is thus purified. The mantra gets personified. This leads to dissolution of the mind and results in a state of samadhi (yogic inner trance)…
Meditation: For purification of the mind, dhyana or meditation, is the best practice. After waking up and before going to bed, meditate for half an hour. This is what Maharaj used to prescribe:
Sit steady with the back erect. Contemplate on: ‘I am not the body. I am formless. I am self-illumined, pure consciousness’. Remain aware of pure consciousness without words till you forget yourself while still awake. Do not visualize any deity, or chant any name. Just ‘TO BE’ and to remain steady with the awareness ‘I AM’ is the beginning and end of spiritual practice.
Source: ‘Meditations With Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’ by Suresh Mehta