I believe that happiness is the normal state of human beings. For me, meditation is about a feeling of "aliveness." It is a state of being attuned at at a heightened level to the miracle of our existence and to the pleasure of inhabiting a body that sustains us from moment to moment. How could that not be happy? How could it be that in our most basic state—once we clear away the worries and anxieties of everyday life, the striving and the struggle to make sense of things—that we are not joyfully amazed by just being alive?
The meditation service I lead begins with a brief relaxation exercise in which we take inventory of the body—step by step, relaxing and releasing the feet, legs, hips, back, belly, shoulders, neck, head and face. I then guide people into focusing on the breath and allowing the mind to become curious about the flow of air, in and out, and how breathing is experienced throughout the body. I then direct meditators to notice how the mind—doing what it does naturally—will drift away into memories, thoughts, images, stories and other distractions. I ask people to notice the mind, pay attention to how it does what it does, to let go of the distractions and gently come back to focussing on the breath.
(There is an audio file of a meditation service at the bottom of this post that you are welcome to use. It's about 31 minutes long and includes about fifteen minutes of silence that starts at about 15:00. The chant at the beginning and the end is a Satmar niggun I learned from Rabbi Michael Strassfeld. I have practiced Jewish meditation with several teachers, but the guidance of Rabbi Sheila Weinberg is closest to my heart.)
Following this general mindfulness meditation, at our Friday morning service I also lead a meditation specific to the particular day and its associations in the Jewish calendar. Often it is based on an idea or a story in the weekly Torah portion.
I won't pretend that meditation is easy. I often find it hard to motivate myself to sit and practice meditation in the morning. Having a group to do it with certainly makes it easier. Think of it as a spiritual practice, like yoga. Think of it as something that you do for yourself, like running, that requires a commitment, but that pays off in the long run.
That "pay-off" for me has been a greater capacity to pay attention to my own state of mind, and that has helped me to be calmer in difficult circumstances, to listen better to other people, and to be patient and open-hearted. Not in any great, overwhelming way, but in a million small and barely noticeable ways, it has helped me to become happier.