Meditation is both the simplest and most complicated thing you will ever do. In theory it seems easy. You need to quiet and focus the mind so that all the internal chatter dies away, leaving you free and clear to tune into the higher energies, re-visualize your life with clarity, and gain insight into your higher purpose.
In practice, it can be a frustrating exercise of fidgeting while trying to block out annoying thoughts about gossip heard at the grocery check-out line, what your fiancé really meant when he said that you don’t really look fat, or whether you remembered to change the kitty litter. Most resolutions to meditate die in the first five minutes of trying.
The number of possible meditations and methods for achieving mental peace are as numerous as the stars in the sky -- or the wanna-be gurus hanging out in obscure shops and downtown cafes. Most of these techniques even have merit. Before trying to determine which path you should follow, you need to come to an understanding of what your own needs may be, and why it is you are meditating.
I have always preferred to break any process into its most basic components. The first rule of empowerment is that you must Know Thyself. One way of gaining an understanding into what fundamentally shapes you as a person and colours your choices, is an exploration of the basic elemental energies, knowing how they feel, how well you relate to each, and how they express themselves in and through you in a balanced fashion.
In order to do this, one must first have a sense of how each energy feels to them personally. Everyone will experience energy in a unique way. While the energy fulfills the same function in each soul, we savour it through the masks of our past experiences. Thus our interaction with each energy is coloured by our past, and by whatever innate characteristics we possess.
There is an interesting side effect of seeking balance through meditation on the elements. A properly balanced state makes reaching deeper levels of awareness easier and more effective. It may seem amusing to think that you will meditate in order that you can meditate better.
But deeper states of meditation may also leave you open to unexpected outside impressions. A strongly balanced energy, self-awareness, and confident control will serve to protect you from unwanted outside influences.
This is not magic. It is not effortless. It takes great work and discipline. A talent or predisposition for mental quiet helps, but in the end, persistence counts for more. Only through repetition and attention will one gain facility with these skills.
Once a basic ease with meditation has been achieved, one can then turn their focus towards particular ends and effects. Specific meditations can be structured to aid or promote healing, to invite inspiration, to remove blocks to physical action, or to encourage emotional connection with others. Meditation is a synergetic skill. It can combine with, strengthen, and improve every other skill we have.