Meditation on the Noble Eightfold Path
At the moment, you may be practicing some kind of meditation. Some people do it for relaxation, and some others do it for the purpose of liberating the mind. That is, for the liberating the mind from attachment, aversion and ignorance, or in other words for attaining Nibbana.
Most of us live a mundane household life, and we go to work in the morning and come back in the afternoon and are tired of all the things we said and done in the day time. You will most probably agree that our mind becomes sluggish as a consequence of this on going process. Buddha said that it is not timely to develop tranquility or concentration when the mind becomes sluggish. It is timely to develop the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states, enlightenment factor of energy and the enlightenment factor of rapture when the mind is sluggish (See: Bojjhangasamyutta for further details).
The best way to start meditation is to start with the Noble Eightfold path. It is the path leading to Nibbana and also the path leading to the development of the bases for spiritual power. After going through this meditation you may practice whatever meditation you are already doing. It makes a lot of difference by going through the Noble Eightfold path. You might have heard about it already but you may have many misconceptions about it. We need to learn the Noble Eightfold path correctly as explained by the Buddha.
Click here to learn the Noble Eightfold path.
After learning the Noble Eightfold path, start meditation with right view and go through the details of the first Noble truth only. Pay attention to each part in minute details, starting from the 'Birth' and then continuing to 'Aging' and so on, testing the meaning of each part and approving it one by one if it is acceptable. The Buddha mention, arising of six sense bases in birth and it is suffering. You should investigate this in meditation time. Why is it suffering to have six sense bases? The answer is that you have impermanent eye, ear etc. Take your own and other's examples here. If you cannot see the same way as before now and you are suffering from it then you will agree with the Buddha from your own experience ( not because Buddha says so). Take your father or mother or someone you know that cannot see with the old age and think that you cannot escape it. Do not neglect to contemplate on other sense bases, ear etc. If you agree that it is suffering then go to the second part, Old age is suffering (Jarapi dukka ) and investigate it, when you come to death contemplate very heavily on it by taking examples. In this manner you go through the rest of the meditation. Do not rush through it, you might be spending 40 minutes but still you may be contemplating only on birth is suffering for that day. This is fine. What is important here is that you realize what Buddha said from your own wisdom. Note that you may be thinking that you have already approved what Buddha said but that is blind faith and it is without any realization. If you are doing it properly you will come across some Dhamma which you have heard but you haven't approved it. Do not reject it ( Buddha has wisdom, it is only we do not understand it) try contemplating more on that. Eventually, you will agree with the Buddha one day and that is your lucky day.
You need to do this mediation for few months. Do not forget to devote some time for the meditation on the Five aggregates of clinging (i.e. form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness aggregates of clinging) as part of this meditation on every day. After sometime, you will develop the ability to recall each minute part of the first Noble Truth and you may have approved some parts of it. See whether you are getting any insights while you are doing this meditation.
You may pay attention to the second Noble Truth after you have developed skills in going through the first Noble Truth. Spend few moths on the first and the second Noble Truth. Always start with the right view and then to description of the first Noble Truth and then to the second Noble Truth in that order. It may take several months to develop this part of the meditation and afterwards you may move on to the third Noble Truth.
When you move on to the fourth Noble Truth you are back in the Noble Eightfold path and we continue with the "Right Thought". Always test the meaning of the Dhamma you are practicing and approve it if it is agreeable to you. If not leave it at this stage and visit it again at a later stage of the meditation. Note that approval is a very important part to make progress. When practicing, check to see whether you have those qualities. In other words, test yourself; am I renouncing sense pleasures as much as I can? Am I having thoughts of non-harming, thoughts of non-malevolence? If you are comfortable here then move to the "Right Speech" and so on.