Many thoughts about meditation arise from the teachings of Patanjali, an ancient yogi sage.
Patanjali wrote The Yoga Sutras as a guide to attain higher states of consciousness in the present lifetime. The Sutras first discuss The Yamas & Niyamas (Moral Restrains & Social Observances) as the foundation and preparation for our meditation practice. The Yamas & Niyamas help us purify the emotional body. Next, we are led to purify and prepare the body through asana practice (physical yoga postures). The ultimate goal of asana is to find a steady and comfortable sitting position, with the purpose of balancing different nerve impulses and opposing sensations. This allows us to be still for longer periods of time without getting caught up in the physical drama of the body. As we incorporate different breathing techniques, or pranayama, we begin to practice one-pointedness of all the energetic forces within the human system. This yogic practice slowly teaches us to block the patterns of ignorance and decrease mental fluctuation.
Movement toward one-pointedness brings us to an ideal state for meditation. As we continue this journey into the depths of our soul, the energy of Pratyahara (sensorial withdrawal) opens up the inner realms of the mind by closing down external addictions, distractions and disturbances. As these distractions continue to dissolve away, we flow into the direct concentration of dharana, finding intense inner focus. To engage in concentration one must bind the mind to a single place (dharana) and eventually allow consciousness to flow without interruption (dhyana). As one develops a more fluid, sustainable level of concentration, the efforts of dharana gently guide us into dhyana, or meditation. Upon mastering this gradual progression, complete awareness is all that remains. This is the self-realization of samadhi.
While these steps may sound intense, the point is that they are attainable to YOU. You have the ability to access each of the building blocks that it takes reach the true bliss of stillness. The mind does not get quite over night; it takes time, practice and patience, but the effort is worth the reward.