Calmness, relief from stress, lowered blood pressure, healing depression, reduced anxiety, improved posture are some of the benefits of meditation. There are meditations based on visualizations, others are based on sound, observing the breath or the rise and fall of the belly or the sensation of air entering and exiting the nostrils. The word meditation means: to familiarize, it is a tool for training the mind. Originally the use of the word mind was more comprehensive that just the intellect and includes the emotions and all manner of perception. Modern mediation focus on physiological response as an indicator of success since it is the only way to scientifically measure the effects of meditation. However the original intent of meditation was liberation.
Liberation is often taken to mean freedom from worries or from “this world.” Neither of these ideas are accurate. Simply looking at the life of the Buddha we see that he gained liberation, or enlightenment, while still alive and in a body and dealing with survival. Granted the Buddha was born and lived in a place and time where enlightened beings were honored. If he were born in the western world today he may not even be recognized by anyone as anything special. The same goes for any of the great spiritual beings of the past. Even in his time Christ Jesus had many doubters regardless of the miracles he performed. Today he would probably fair no better than he did back then.
Meditation as originally defined as the familiarization is something we are doing all the time. All people are familiarizing themselves with worry, constant mental chatter, anxiety, phobias, anger, rage, regret, bitterness, joyfulness, calmness, peacefulness; some are doing it consciously, but most are not. The decision to consciously familiarize with a state of being you desire is meditation. Just remember that anything is possible with proper instruction and perseverance. I presume most people reading this will try to go it alone I suggest not forcing too much and allow yourself time and space to evolve your practice at a natural pace. I will share various meditation techniques in posts to come.