In the yogic context, meditation, or dhyana, is defined more specifically as a state of pure consciousness. It is the seventh stage, or limb, of the yogic path and follows dharana, the art of concentration. Dhyana in turn precedes samadhi, the state of final liberation or enlightenment, the last step in Patanjali's eight-limbed system. These three limbs dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (ecstasy) are inextricably linked and collectively referred to as samyama, the inner practice, or subtle discipline, of the yogic path.
Ways to Meditate :
The Use of Sound : Chanting, an extension of mantra yoga, is a powerful way to enter into meditation. Longer than a mantra, a chant involves both rhythm and pitch. Western traditions use chants and hymns to invoke the name of God, to inspire, and to produce a spiritual awakening. Dating back to Vedic times, Indian chanting comes out of a tradition that believes in the creative power of sound and its potential to transport us to an expanded state of awareness. The rishis, or ancient seers, taught that all of creation is a manifestation of the primordial sound Om. Reflected in an interpretation of the word universe one song Om is the seed sound of all other sounds. Chanting Sanskrit often and properly produces profound spiritual and physical effects.
The Use of Imagery : Visualizing is also a good way to meditate; one that beginners often find easy to practice. Traditionally, a meditator visualizes his or her chosen deity a god or goddess in vivid and detailed fashion. Essentially any object is valid.
Gazing : Another variation on the use of imagery is to maintain an open-eyed focus upon an object. This focus is referred to as drishti, which means view, opinion, or gaze. Again the choices available to you here are virtually limitless. Candle gazing is a popular form of this method. Focusing on a flower in a vase, or a statue, or a picture of a deity are other possibilities.
Breathing : Using the breath as a point of focus is yet another possibility. You can do this by actually counting the breaths as you would in pranayama practice. Ultimately, however, meditating on the breath just means purely observing the breath as it is, without changing it in any way. In this instance, the breath becomes the sole object of your meditation. You observe every nuance of the breath and each sensation it produces: how it moves in your abdomen and torso, how it feels as it moves in and out of your nose, its quality, its temperature, and so on. Though you are fully aware of all these details, you don not dwell on them or judge them in any way; you remain detached from what you are observing. What you discover is neither good nor bad; you simply allow yourself to be with the breath from moment to moment.
Walking : A moving meditation highly recommended by many teachers may be an enjoyable option for you. The challenge of this form is to walk slowly and consciously, each step becoming your focal point. Destination, distance, and pace are all incidental. Relax your arms at your sides and move freely, coordinating your breath with your steps. For instance, you might breathe in for 3 steps and breathe out for 3 steps. If that feels awkward or difficult, just breathe freely. Although you can practice walking meditation anywhere, choose a setting you particularly love the ocean, a favorite park, or a meadow. Remember, getting somewhere is not the issue. Rather, the complete involvement in the act of walking becomes your meditation.