I am confused about what exactly stillness and thoughtlessness mean. I read that we should not be blank while meditating but should concentrate on the Lord...how do I do this ? Is it okay to talk to God and yourself? Or repeating a mantra? Also, how do I sit in stillness after meditating?
My deep regards and gratitude
It’s important to have techniques of meditation that allow you to deepen your concentration so that you can go beyond thoughts and yet not be blank.
A powerful and effective technique that Paramhansa Yogananda taught is Hong-Sau. This technique emphasizes observing the breath while using the internal sounds of Hong, and Sau, to accompany the flow of the breath. This allows the meditator to be very focused in a dynamic manner, even to the point of stilling the breath.
One can talk with God by being immersed in deep meditation where there is no need for words or thoughts. In this state one is in inner communion with the Divine. It is also helpful to talk with God outside of formal meditation periods. You can develop this connection with God by emphasizing what is known in the yoga teachings as “japa.” This is the approach of tuning into a name of God, or a spiritual word or phrase, and repeating it either mentally or out loud so as to be more saturated in the divine consciousness. For instance, Yogananda recommended the mantra of “OM Guru” to his disciples.
It is very important at the end of meditation techniques to reserve some time just to be in the absorption and expansion phase of meditation. Allow yourself to merge into the spiritual eye and feel that you are expanding into the infinite consciousness. Or you might also tune into one of the eight aspects of the Divine within your awareness; perhaps as peace, or calmness, or bliss, or love, or the inner light, or the inner sounds, or Divine power, or wisdom. Try to feel that you are open and receptive to whatever the Divine is offering you; allow yourself to go into the center of whatever experience is coming to you.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you in your meditations.
Blessings on your spiritual journey,