Meditation is mainly an internal personal practice. Generally there are no external accompaniments. For a lot of cultures meditation is a religious practice. There are dozens of specific kinds of meditation. People who practice meditation all have their own reasons for doing so. The role meditation plays in transforming the function and structure of the brain has caught the attention of scientists. In recent years the scientific community has tried to define meditation without much success.
Meditation has been practiced for centuries. It dates back to 1500 BC in Hindu Vedantism. By 500-600 BC it was used by Taoists in China. Indian Buddhists also started practicing meditation around this time. Islam incorporates some meditation in the repetition of the ninety-nine Names of God in the Quran. Japan opened its first meditation hall in the fifth century. This is just a small example of the cultures that have practiced meditation for a long time.
Here in the western part of the world, meditation has been in practice since the middle of the twentieth century. People practice the art of meditation to achieve peace and harmony of the mind and body. Usually a person sits comfortably and focuses on something as specific as the sound of their breath or a certain corner of the room. The key is to be aware of your surroundings as they relate to you. You are not trying to keep any thoughts from intruding. You are training your mind to put them in to perspective in your life. Basically you are allowing your mind to assign degrees of importance to your thoughts. As your mind deals with these you can feel the stress leave your body.
Some people burn incense and do chants. What ever you do to get your mind and body in harmony, it is more about slowing down and allowing your mind to just be. Todays world is fast paced and hectic. There is never enough time to do all the things that are packed into ones life.
The body needs rest and relaxation or it cannot keep going. Meditation is rest and relaxation for your brain. Many times people who practice meditation will say that they feel rested and at peace. Meditation is a practice that has different meaning for all who use it. Many books have been written about it. Meditation cannot be defined by a simple example or explanation for there is no clear understanding of it.