There are more books about meditation than I can count. Every book explains a different way to meditate and different reasons to meditate.
If we cut out all the excess information, there is only one primary reason and one primary way to meditate.
We meditate in order to stop our mental chatter.
Stopping our mental chatter brings euphoria, insight, improved physical and mental health, and taps into our intuitive unconscious. These are side effects of stopping our mental chatter and that is the goal of meditation.
Stopping the mental chatter can occur primarily by sitting and breathing. When a random though pops up we observe it from a distance, acknowledge that it is a thought, and then let it go bringing focus back to breathing. Sometimes we get the feeling of boredom that’s just another thought (strong because we’re identifying ourselves with it). Acknowledge it, let it go, focus on breathing.
Chanting is interesting because it’s basically a focus on breathing with an auditory component. Chanting with other people in unison… that’s an incredible experience that makes it very easy to stop the mental chatter.
The meditation books also talk about soft (new agey) music, incense, positions, etc. The point of all this is to put you in a better mood for meditation. They make you feel sacred and help you to relax.
When you meditate, if you’re going to use anything to help you, beyond sitting in a quiet place, make sure that your reason for using it is not ego based.
Being true in your motivations is very difficult to identify. The more you think or talk about it, the more false it is for you. You know right away if something is real, don’t ignore that.