From a teaching perspective it should be clear to the student from the outset what meditation is or is not and can or cannot perhaps provide. By stilling the mind certain aspects can materialise from regular practice. Situations can be seen with more open clarity, consciously choosing to respond to a situation appropriately, rather than knee jerk react. As part of this transformation a sense of witnessing events as from a bigger picture or wider lens can occur as opposed to becoming caught up in the arising content.
Many factors of health and wellbeing can be hugely improved by meditation, however shouldn't be seen as a replacement for any essential medicines a patient may require. Additionally great care must be taken as not to advise meditation to a person with certain conditions that would be exacerbated by the practice, for example schizophrenia. Meditation can be practiced by anybody regardless of their own personal belief system by sitting, standing, calm contemplation, surrender and acceptance and embracing the now. It is not (although features in most religions) a religion within itself. It can be secular, spiritual or part of any faith.
Healing various systems within the body by re-addressing balance is proven to be beneficial from meditation. However meditation is not a therapy per se where a particular result or goal is strived for, rather more a technique to refocus in the direction of sensing and feeling steering away from perpetuating repetitive streams of thought.
It is a complete way of life giving birth to feelings of compassion, gratitude, self awareness and unity incorporating discipline. Comparatively than the achievement of a specific target by maintaining constant regular practice as part of a holistic approach to our own health.
Almost any activity can be regarded as meditative (if engaged fully in the present moment). For example playing music, sport, artistic pursuits or reading. This demonstrates that there is 'no one size fits all' method contrary to what some schools of thought may say. Because of the way different techniques are available to us, it is advisable to try all to find one that suits you best.
Relaxing is a key part of meditation but in the body only, the mind must remain calm but alert. Sleeping is not considered correct practice nor the habit of day dreaming/zoning out.Thoughts should be observed and let go of so as not to get trapped in them. Nonetheless you should be gentle on yourself harnessing a non judgemental attitude just by noticing various habits and lightly bringing the focus back to the object, for instance the breath, mantra or affirmation.
Meditation is not necessarily easy but a simple art form available and accessible at any time, it just requires patient diligent practice. It is not an esoteric knowledge only obtainable by erudite masters 'if you can breathe, you can meditate'.
The experience that comes from meditating may not always be pleasant, positive, perfect or provide answers. Despite this it does initiate an insightful approach to problems and emotions one may be facing. Thoughts will not just cease, however a different perspective towards them will be revealed if persistent with practicing. The mind is restless by nature and can be observed and gently detached from allowing space to emerge producing more transparency.
Finally it is a myth that a lengthy period of time is required to practice, meditation does not have to be time consuming it can be just as beneficial with a few minutes contemplation as well as a long duration.