Jiddu Krishnamurti was once asked this question. He replied 'I don't know what meditation is.'
What did this deep thinker and meditator mean by this?
There are many ways of meditating and even more theories, recommendations and suggestions.
There are many monastic and radically methodical approaches to meditation that have evolved over thousands of years. They all have enthusiastic adherents.
Where do we start?
How do we know what is the 'right' way or 'best' way to meditate?
Krishnamurti said he didn't know!
But he said more, 'I start with freedom, not with a burden. I free my mind from the burdens of others; their systems, their methods, their acceptance of authority, their beliefs. I discard all of that. I don't know what meditation is. That means my mind has a sense of great humility, not knowing and not asking. Someone will try to fill my mind, some book, some professor, some teacher or great scholar..... they say, 'I will give you the answers.' I say 'Please don't! I know nothing; you know nothing either, because you are repeating what others have said.' I discard all that. Now I am in a position to truly enquire, not to achieve a result, to gain enlightenment or anything else, but to look at the whole of my life and experience.'
Notwithstanding his answer to the question he did say something very illuminating and inspiring about meditation:
'You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life. Meditation is a quality of attention that pervades all of one's life.'
(Jiddu Krishnamurti 1895-1986)