Meditation is the state achieved from deep concentration on a single object until all other thoughts vanish and all that is left is an intense awareness of that object. It is the ultimate goal of all our Yoga practices to reach this state of bliss.
However, there are many stages before this can be achieved. In Yoga we have a system of 'steps' that were taken from the ancient Sutras and transcribed by a man called Patanjali for the people of his time. He talks about the 'Eight Limbs (or steps) of Yoga' :
The 6th limb is Concentration (dharana), which is holding the mind on a primary focus either within the body or outside of it. The 7th is Meditation (dhyana), which is an unbroken flow of thought toward the object of concentration. The 8th is achieved when absorption and understanding takes place, not distorted by the mind of the perceiver. This is called samadhi.
To reach a state of Meditation requires regular practice. With yoga training you can start to develop more mindfulness and a greater awareness of your thought processes through various exercises, using a primary focus. This state of concentration and awareness of your own thought processes are themselves recognized today as being very beneficial to improved good health. Some of the benefits can be: reduced stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, improved concentration, clarity and creativity.
“Meditation is a means to an endlessness. It allows us to directly experience our true nature. From that vastness and clarity comes the peace and wisdom that we so long for. The space to accept ourselves “as is”. Stephen Levine.
"Active meditation can occur when one performs ones daily duties, walking, talking eating etc. Passive meditation is the aim of sitting in one pose and performing a meditational practice. Its aim is to still the ever restless and wandering mind and make it one-pointed."
“Meditation is a state of consciousness that can be understood only on a direct intuitive level. Ordinary experiences are limited by time, space and the laws of causality, but the meditative state transcends all boundaries”.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
“Sportsmen & women know this space, artists & musicians know it and we may sometimes have experience of it through gardening, walking on a beach or making love. Even as children we may have had experiences of it. Meditation is a natural state and one that you have almost certainly tasted, although perhaps without knowing the name of the flavour". Osho