Meditation is a popular topic in these, our troubled times, so I feel it would be helpful to share my thoughts and experiences as a lifelong meditator.
I developed the habit of meditation (and it is most effective as a habit) in early childhood, not really understanding it intellectually until later.
Doing meditation consistently caused me to experience some interesting and (at the time) mysterious things, such as the chrism/kundalini phenomenon, that I will perhaps cover in another essay. I only mention that, because I can state with full confidence that, first of all, everyone can have these experiences, and more importantly, they do not place one in some sort of spiritual hierarchy.
Psychic (and/or psychological) phenomena can be a great distraction. Thankfully for me, I was more interested in the practical side of meditation when I was young, and also was gifted a great deal of grounded advice from a number of experienced Christian mystics.
Neither mysticism nor meditation belong exclusively to any religion. Mysticism is the heart of all true religion, it is the point of all religion. When religion does not lead us to mystical experience, it is dead.
Meditation is the core of applied philosophy, it is the path and process of mysticism. Meditation is not a mental activity. There is a lot of confusion on the topic. Guided meditation, while may have a place in life, is not the meditation I am speaking of. Affirmations have nothing to do with meditation. Manifestion is not meditation.
Meditation is the letting go of sensory input, both external (the 5 senses) and internal, the emotional, mental and psychic 'clutter' that pulls at us. In the beginning, it is easiest to take certain physical approachs, but eventually one does not need to sit/stand with eyes closed for hours a day.
When starting out, take it slow. Make sure you are first aware of your body. Siting in lotus position is not always the best idea. Standing meditation is actually more effective. When you notice your mind wander, don't fight it, just return to noticing your body and how it feels. Relax, breathe, but don't turn it into a rigidly choreographed exercise. Don't expect anything unusual or mystical to happen initially, all great things take time.
Meditation is our internal reset function. It is the absence of purpose. You may already meditate in a way without realizing that's what it is. When we take time to smell the roses, we are in the preparation phase of meditation. Reading, doing leisurely hobbies, etc. all pave the way for deeper meditation.
Meditation reminds us that nothing is as critically important as we have a tendency to make it. That everything will be ok if we just learn to go with our internal flow. The modern world around us pulls and pushes at us, and we must take time to remember that we don't actually care as much as we think and feel that we do. Moderation in lifestyle allows meditation to naturally develop.
Meditation is not something that we do, it is something that happens as we stop doing everything else. This is easier said than done, and like all else in life, patience, practice and time are the key.
As we go along, we will begin to notice how chaotic the energy inside our bodies is. We desire it to be less of a flail, but just as when someone is wound up, the worst thing to do is try to force or demand them to calm down, we must allow the situation to self-correct in its natural way, in its own time. All efforts will merely exhaust and frustrate us.
Be gentle with yourself. Breathe without demanding a certain way of breathing. Notice without judging. Let go, releasing the natural reactions to push back.
If we practice this for even 10-15 minutes a day, we will begin to gradually see results throughout the rest of our day. We will find ourselves being less sensational, less explosive, perhaps. Meditation is checking in with that deeper part of ourselves, our soul. It is letting God speak to us, or more accurately, giving ourselves the freedom to listen to God's ever present voice.
We will find Joy in meditation, but do not be frustrated if it is short-lived. Again, it is simply a matter of consistent practice. Over long periods of time, mystical experiences will come along. Enjoy them, but avoid the temptation to read too much into them. They are normal, natural events. They do not mean we are special or divinely ordained to any great status in relation to the rest of the world.
Psychic phenomenon may occur, it is especially vital not to attempt to make this happen before its time. Many people have seriously damaged themselves, have made themselves neurotic or even psychotic in this pursuit. Just let what happens happen, learn to be content. If we do not understand at first, that is normal. In time all will be revealed.
If you have already caused yourself some of this damage that I refer to, it's not impossible to cure, but you will need to throw yourself into a very normal lifestyle, put the spiritual ambitions down for a while. Grounding is very important. It is not something in our head. Grounding is using Nature to put our feet firmly on Terra Firma. Life in the clouds seems so exciting, but it is easy to lose all orientation.
Meditation must be aided by tactile, meaningful labors in the physical world. This was the original purpose of Zen, today's version is very different from when career soldiers developed it as a way to stay alive in dangerous situations.
One must be careful about electronics, about how much time we allow others to influence us, but we also cannot hide in the basement, avoiding the world, as this will also unground us.
Moderation, patience and an open mind are the essential ingredients to meditation and mysticism. Commit to a lifetime of effort, and learn to enjoy the journey, as cliched as that statement may sound.
I pray that you come to discover the peace that passes all understanding, God bless you.