WHAT IS MEDITATION?
A practical & systematic technique that leads to expanded awareness & significant stress-reduction, with regular practice
The word "meditation" today points towards any of a system of techniques or practices, which historically have been used to cultivate an expanded awareness, leading to conscious regulation or self-mastery of the workings of the mind, nervous system, and physiology. Modernly, meditation practices are celebrated and relied on for their stress & anxiety-reducing benefits.
Meditation practices employ a wide-variety of techniques, at times in isolation and at other times strategically integrated and woven together, that cultivate our faculty of awareness through the initiation of specific states of consciousness. Practices may include focused-concentration, mantra recitation, guided contemplation and somatic techniques amongst many others. Generally, there is not one single practice that constitutes meditation; rather, it is as infinite in its breadth as is the spectrum of experience available to us in any given moment.
Usually, extracted from a greater path or system of practices & teachings that support self-realization
You likely have some concept of what meditation is and what it does; but, if you're like most, you probably don't know much in the realm of distinguishing one type of meditation from another. There are many different meditation practices, and teachers have for thousands of years revived these practices, along with the wisdom traditions they're linked to, and shared them in ways that were relevant to their audiences. Thus, leaving us with not just an abundant supply of practices, but also with many different systems for how best to approach those practices. The systems indicate which practice to start with, the best times cyclically or according to one's stage of progression in which to introduce new practices, or how best to antidote common behavioral challenges experienced on the path of spiritual awakening, etc. Buddha, for instance, is known for having cognized a very detailed path for his followers, from which many guided contemplative practices, like mindfulness, have derived or been extracted.