People have many different ideas about meditation but most agree that there are significant physical and psychological benefits of meditation.
At a recent discussion with some of my yoga students we talked about the ways in which we experience meditation. For some it was the ability to focus the awareness on the stillness of body and the movement of breath in the body. For others it was a great sense of peace and calmness that came with simply doing nothing or being engrossed in nature.
However all those present said that there was a distinct element of being the witness. In yogic terms this is known as being the “Drashta“..the one who watches. For watching the thoughts come and go in their continuous stream helps you to become detached. Of course this is not so easy..as we often get caught up in the thoughts and find ourselves reacting to the thoughts. When this occurs it is important to simply be aware that this is what has happened and resume your observation of breath, heartbeat, stillness etc.
Swami Sannyasananda Saraswati from Australia has an interesting article published in the Yoga magazine http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2006/bfeb06/what.shtml where he discusses the stages of meditation.