Intense contemplation on God is Dhyana- shri shrimadavadhoot - yoga - yogank Gita press p. 320.
तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम् Patanjali yoga Sutra 3.2 an unbroken flow of knowledge in that object is Dhyana- Swami Vivekananda- Raja yoga p.218
Suitable time - sun rise and sun set. If not possible do it anytime you find convenient.
Place- quite airy and sun lit free from disturbances and distractions. Ideally same place and same time every day.
Asana- though scriptures suggest asana made of grass and deer skin but it is not possible now a days but you can make do by folding a woollen blanket or woollen sheet. Even that is not available, use bedsheets ( 2 or 3) with many folds. It shouldn't be too high nor too low.
Posture- sit cross legged or in any meditative posture with head, neck and spine in straight line. Don't sit in a crooked position, it disturbs the energy flow in the body.
The first internal condition necessary is concentration of will against the obstacles- wandering of the mind, forgetfulness, sleep, physical and nervous impatience and restlessness.
The second is an increasing purity and calm of the inner consciousness ( chitta) out of which thought and emotion arise- a freedom from all disturbing reactions such as anger, grief, anxiety, about world happenings .
Purity which we talked about is the necessary condition for Dhyana. They are indeed two aspects of the same- purity and concentration- feminine and masculine, passive and active . On the strength of purity only concentration becomes entire, rightly effective, omnipotent. And by concentration purity does its works and without it, it would lead only to a state of peaceful quiescence and eternal repose. Equally without purity, the complete, equal, flexible concentration of the being in right thought, right will, right feeling is not possible.
Then your concentration should be on the higher soul, or the judging and discerning intellect but not on the restless, leaping, fickle, easily tired , easily distracted lower mind which is the chief enemy of our progress.
Therefore, the two must proceed together, says Maharshi Aurobindo.
But we must also remember
Sleep doesn’t come on our asking, similarly Dhyan doesn’t happen on our asking. Sleep comes on it’s own so does Dhyan. Yogank- Gita Press, Gorakhpur-P. 321.
Though there are many techniques to meditate, beginners can choose any one of the following two.
Concentration meditation requires mind to focus on a single point, breath, object, flame, a chosen deity or ishta devta. Keep it simple and short in the beginning may be 3 to 5 minutes. Get a feel of it and then gradually build on it. This will increase your ability to concentrate.
The seeker should allow free flow of thoughts unhindered. He should just witness them as a dispassionate watcher. Don't indulge in to any thought, don't try to restrict or repel any thought- whatever comes just watch. Imagine yourself standing on a cross road and mass of men moving. You don't take notice of each and every person moving on the road. So let thoughts come and go - you have absolutely no relation with these thoughts- just watch them appear and then disappear. Don't evaluate, don't judge and don't indulge or spin in to any thought. Continuous practice helps in development of state of internal harmony and balance.
Power of Dhyana
The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow, the strength and force of the blow comes through concentration. There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is , the more power is brought to bear on one point ; that is the secret. S Vivekananda- Raja yoga p. 9
Whatever you may want to do in life, one thing is absolutely indispensable and at the basis of everything, the capacity to concentrate. If you are able to gather together the rays of attention and consciousness on one point and can maintain this concentration with a persistent will, nothing can resist it. The Mother- Growing Within p. 70
And above all, there is no spiritual barrier or obstacle which can resist a penetrating power of concentration.
“If your power of concentration is complete, then there is not a problem you cannot solve.
But people would say where is the time to do all these things.
If one wants to do things well, one must have time, this is not true. For all that you do- study, play, work- there is only one solution, to increase one’s power of concentration. One can succeed in doing things even better and more quickly by the power of concentration. And in this way you can make use of work as a means of growth”. The Mother-Powers Within- p. 42
It is however conceded, by many who are acquainted with it, that it is necessary corrective to our present mentality, over burdened with external things and estranged from the true life of spirit by humdrum toll, material greed and sensual excitement. S Radhakrishnan - Indian philosophy volume 2 by SRK p.309
But then the point is how to concentrate?
The first step in concentration must be always to focus your distractive and discursive mind to a single object, single issue or a single thought and this it must do undistracted by all lures and attractions and calls on its attention. Such concentration is common in our life when we are immersed in a thing which is of our interest and we forget the sense of time even- suddenly we notice- oh it has been two hours I have been working on - time just flew. But it becomes difficult when we have to do it inwardly without any outside object or action on which to keep the mind; yet this inward concentration is what the seeker of the knowledge must effect.
For it to be effective and meaningful, all your energy , all your will, all your aspirations must be turned only towards the Divine, towards the God and His integral realisation in our consciousness.
Again, to keep constantly a concentrated and in-gathered attitude is more important than having fixed hours of meditation says the M Aurobindo
By concentration again the whole will can be gathered up for the acquisition of that which is still ungrasped, still beyond us; this power , if it is sufficiently trained, sufficiently single minded, sufficiently sincere, sure of itself, faithful to itself alone, absolute faith, we can use for the acquisition of any object whatsoever; but we ought to use it not for the acquisition of the many objects which the world offers, but to grasp spirituality that one object worthy of pursuit which is also one object worthy of knowledge. By concentration of our whole being on one status of itself, we can become whatever we choose; we can become for instance, even if we were before a mass of weakness and fears, a mass instead of strength and courage, or we can become all a great purity, holiness and peace for a single soul of love. The Mother - Powers Within p.45
Benefits of meditation
Cool, calm relaxed state of mind
Increased focus and attention, strong will power
Concentrating on present
Change in attitudes and perspective towards life
Increased self awareness
Researchers have found that meditation helps in managing symptoms in the following diseases
High blood pressure
Meditation offers wonderful benefits. But in the beginning it is a big struggle. In Indian system it is a means of spiritual progress, where one is concerned with the thought of Divine, Divine and divine alone. So if you are stuck and not making any progress, just pray for light, for removing obstacles and persist with the practice. Be sincere and open your heart to the God. Eventually He will take care. Absolute necessity is the sincerity. Based on author‘S own experience.