There are many different types of meditation, but ultimately they all share the common goal of quietening the mind and stopping our thoughts. When we meditate we must not allow either good or bad thoughts to enter the mind. No matter how illumining our thoughts are, meditation aims to give us a consciousness far beyond the domain of the intellect and our reasoning mind. By definition, words will always fail to describe the inner experience of meditation. Meditation can never be grasped by the finite intellectual mind; meditation deals with consciousness and a state of being. To understand meditation, we have to practise and experience it for ourselves.
“When we meditate we expand, spreading our wings like a bird, trying to enter consciously into Infinity, Eternity and Immortality, welcoming them into our aspiring consciousness. We see, feel and grow into the entire universe of Light-Delight.
Sri Chinmoy 
If you feel a sense of dissatisfaction with your ordinary life, and if you wish to enjoy a real and meaningful inner peace, then meditation is the answer. Anybody can meditate, the only requirement is our inner aspiration to concentrate and dive deep within. Nobody can meditate for you, nor can anybody take away the fruits of your meditation. Through meditation we can develop a lasting inner peace and happiness that does not depend on the outer world. Whatever other people do or say, we shall be able to retain a detachment and equanimity from the turmoil’s of life.
How to Meditate.
In the beginning we need to find a suitable quiet environment where we can be undisturbed. If possible, find a quiet corner of a room to dedicate to your meditation. If you decorate the area with flowers and candles, it will add to your inspiration and help to create a meditative vibration. If possible, it is advisable to have a shower and wear clean and light clothes. Also, we should not meditate after eating a heavy meal, because the body will be lethargic from digesting the food.
The first thing we have to do is to sit still, if we cannot keep our body still, we have no hope of keeping our thoughts still. To meditate we should keep a straight spine; we can either sit on the floor or if we prefer meditate in a chair. It is important to find a comfortable position which we can maintain. The next stages is to relax the body. We need to relieve our body of stress and tension. We can do this through practising a very simple breathing exercise. In this exercise, we need to just be conscious of our breathing; our breathing should also be gentle and relaxed. If someone placed a feather in front of our nose, the feather would barely move.
By simply focusing on our breathing we relax the body and also slow down the thought process of the mind.
Concentration and Meditation
The next stage to master is concentration. In meditation, concentration is different to an academic style of concentration. We are not just using the focus of the mind. What we are doing is becoming aware of only one object at a time. This is the real secret of meditation; if we can develop a one-pointed focus and not get distracted by random thoughts or ideas we will be able to make real progress in our meditation.
To develop concentration, you can try focusing on one object. For example, you can put your focus on the tip of a candle flame. The smaller the object the better.
When you have developed the ability to concentrate on only one thing at a time, you can enter the next stage which is silent meditation. With a sense of concentration we repeatedly let go of any thoughts which come into our mind. Eventually we are able to achieve an inner silence. This silence should not be confused with a blank negation. What actually happens is that when we have attained inner silence we feel the dawning of a new consciousness. Unconstrained by the critical and finite nature of the mind, we are able to identify with a boundless consciousness within our own inner self.
 Prayer and Meditation. Excerpt from Prayer-World, Mantra-World And Japa-World by Sri Chinmoy.
Meditation – Next Steps
- Basic Steps to Learning Meditation
- Practical tips to Improving Concentration
- How To gain Control of Your Thoughts
- How To Maintain lasting meditation practise
Photo by Unmesh Swanson, Sri Chinmoy Centre galleries