The Sanskrit term bhavana carries with it the connotation of cultivating particular cognitive states. While it’s Tibetan equivalent gom has the idea of developing a familiarity of a perception and emotion such as compassion. Together they imply the concept of a process of repetitive cultivation of functional states of mind, and in this regard you might just call meditation, “mind training”.
Western culture is familiar to the notion of physical training but, not so familiar with the cultivation of the inner qualities that support genuine happiness. As the mind plays a major role in our determining experiences, it makes sense to spend at least some time developing the causes of mental fitness. Why? Because it is through training the mind that we can begin to develop genuine happiness. Rather than trying to squeeze genuine happiness out of the external world we can bring this mental state to everything we do. Meditation, therefore, is an integral part of a larger process of becoming healthy.
Buddhism claims that “enlightenment” is merely the extirpation of dysfunctional cognitive, conative and affective mental states; together with the development of functional mental states. Analysis and reasoning play a large role in this process, to which meditation is a vital diagnostic, therapeutic and analytic tool used in this endeavor. This is true, because philosophical truths are not things we look up in books or that are given to us by some mystical process. Truths are acquired through reading, thinking, and in the Buddhist tradition, meditation. If we merely report what someone else has said we are not doing the investigating for ourselves. However, Buddhist mind science is more than the articulation of philosophical or religious views, it is the critical investigation into whether these views correspond with reality.
By doing so, we are in fact developing the actual causes of genuine happiness. Whether it is with respect to a habit, a way of seeing yourself and the world around you, or a way of being. It can be said that meditation is about becoming familiar with functional states of mind and views of reality that are concordant with happiness producing experiences and states of mind.