The meaning of Meditation or bhawana is focusing your attention mindfully to a wholesome object over a period of time. Meditation is concentrated awareness or collectiveness gained by controlling the mind and training it to bring inner peace to the individual who practices it. Meditation or bhawana is mental cultivation.
The Buddha explained that our mind is always influenced by the three defilements or the three roots of evil, called, greed, anger (ill will or hatred) and delusion (ignorance of reality). When any of these roots are present in us, our mind can be influenced by imaginations rooted by these defilements that can give us a false view of reality. Meditation helps us to realise the true nature of this wild mind and aims at purifying the mind with the negative thoughts and disturbances that arise in our mind, such as: greed, hatred, laziness, worry and doubt.
There are two kinds of meditation techniques taught by the Buddha. Tranquility or Samatha refers to the calmness we experience by controlling and reducing the rising of mental impurities. Samatha, calm or tranquility meditation leads to Janas (absorptions) and Abhinna (physic super-normal powers).
Samatha mediation is concerned with producing a one-pointed mind. One pointedness is gained through a concentrated state in which all the faculties and mental power are directed towards one object.
A calm mind is necessary to have a deep look into ourselves and to have a deep understanding of ourselves and the world. If we train our mind in this manner, we will gain calmness and tranquility and will also be able to concentrate our mind to one point. This helps to stop the mind from frittering away and wasting its useful energy.
Once our mind is calmed, through the development of Vipasana or Insight meditation, we can analyse almost every component thing and then, understand it's true nature. Vipasana bhawana leads to insight wisdom and Nibbana. Vipasana is an insight to the true nature of things, and seeing things as they are. Insight meditation is mental training for penetrative understanding of the “Three Characteristics of Existence” (Ti lakkhana) namely impermanence, misery and non-substantiality (anicca, dukka and anatta).
One should keep in mind that with what ever the form of meditation one does, the essential thing is mindfulness or awareness (sati), attention or observation (anupassana).