Narendranath initially experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi at Calcutta's Cossipore Garden House. He was meditating with his buddy Gopal (senior) one evening when he suddenly sensed a light behind his head. The light got brighter as he focused his attention on it. He then heard a voice say "You have been very much worried about the world. The world is not so bad after all. Give up your life for others, and you will be happy."
This experience moved him to start working towards an organized mission system that would help people find peace and happiness. He started this work by forming groups of four or five people to visit villages around India to preach Ramakrishna's message of love. He also created many books that are still read today.
During his lifetime, millions of people across India and abroad learned from Vivekananda's example of self-discipline and spiritual growth.
Here are some other methods used by great meditators over time:
Khenpo Tsultim Nyima: cut off contact with the outside world, stay in a monastery under strict rules, eat only vegetables because meat makes you feel guilty later (this part isn't true but it might as well be).
Holly Bashore: spend lots of time alone with her thoughts.
Ramana Maharshi recommended three meditation strategies to realize this absolute reality: 1. Focusing approach on what he referred to as the "Spiritual Heart" (in the center of your chest, two centimeters to your right).
Ramana Maharshi was and still is considered by many as a supremely enlightened individual. He was a captivating figure who drew a large number of believers, some of whom considered him as an incarnation and the embodiment of Shiva.
Ramana Maharshi resided in Sri Ramanasramam, the ashram that grew around his mother's tomb, from 1922 until his death in 1950. Ramana Maharshi used to go from Skandashram to his mother's tomb on a regular basis.
During deep meditation, experienced meditators frequently report spontaneous visual vision in the form of lights or other forms of visual imagery. These encounters with light are commonly understood as having mystical significance.... Meditation can also lead to hearing sounds without external stimulation, feeling sensations without physical causes, and seeing images that do not correspond to anything in reality.
These experiences are not uncommon among practitioners who have reached a certain level of meditation proficiency. They are indicators that your mind is working sufficiently below the surface of awareness where real-life problems don't interfere.
If you're interested in exploring this subject further, I recommend these books:
Mystical Experience: A Study in Religion by Alfred Liefrinan (University of Chicago Press). This is a classic study of mystical experience as it has been recorded over many centuries by many different cultures around the world. It's a great place to start because it's short and accessible, and will give you a solid foundation to build upon.
Visionary Consciousness: An Introduction to Humanistic Psychotherapy by Robert Moss (Jason Aronson). This is a recent book that explores the relationship between consciousness and health, taking a cognitive-behavioral approach to treating psychological disorders. It's helpful for anyone wanting to understand how visionary experiences can be used therapeutically.
A realized and liberated (Jivanmukta) yogi or yogini who has entered the level of nirvikalpa samadhi can voluntarily depart their body and gain enlightenment at the time of death while in a profound, conscious meditation state, according to this concept. Many great spiritual teachers have taught that it is possible to reach enlightenment before or after dying, but most of them were not able to exit their physical bodies.
Nirvikalpa means "without residue" or "untainted". In other words, a person in nirvikalpa samadhi has overcome all attachment to life, including his or her own life. A realized soul is free from the cycle of birth and death. He or she has conquered lust, anger, greed, ignorance, and other afflictions of the mind and has attained enlightenment, which means being free from all attachments, including freedom from attachment to enlightenment.
In traditional Buddhism, there are three levels of consciousness: the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states; the dream world; and the unconscious mind. The deep meditative states of yoga are beyond these three levels of consciousness and lie far beyond human experience. Yet, some highly advanced meditators are said to have access to higher levels of consciousness during their practices.
The Buddha never claimed to have discovered any new truths about the universe when he was in deep meditation.
Rabindranath Tagore suggested studying Vivekananda's works to learn about India. Indian independence activist Subhas Chandra Bose regarded Vivekananda as his spiritual teacher. Mahatma Gandhi said that after reading the works of Vivekananda, his love for his nation became a thousand-fold.
Vivekananda taught mathematics at the University of Calcutta from 1883 to 1885 before moving to Chicago to study law. He finished his studies in 1888 and started his own law practice. In 1893, he gave up law to organize a religious community called "Ramakrishna Mission". The mission has branches across India and the world.
He inspired many people with his ideas on peace, harmony, and universal brotherhood. Some of these people also became monks or nuns and started new branches of the Ramakrishna Mission. One such monk is Sarada Devi who founded the order of Divine Light Missionaries. She was greatly influenced by Vivekananda and used to say that without him, she would not have been born into this world.
Another disciple named Swami Vishwananda lives in USA. He is known for writing several books on yoga philosophy.
Vivekananda advocated individual meditation and self-inquiry instead of worshiping idols. He believed that only through knowledge and self-realization can one find God.
Siddhartha then traveled to a location near Bodh Gaya, India, where he discovered a perfect location for meditation. He remained there, emphasizing a meditation known as "space-like concentration on the Dharmakaya," in which he concentrated solely on the ultimate essence of all phenomena. This led to his enlightenment at age 29.
After his enlightenment, Siddhartha continued to lead an ascetic life and preached the Dharma to anyone who would listen. He finally established his own community but was soon forced to move it again when refugees came from other countries seeking his teachings. The movement spread throughout Asia, and many Buddhists today are descendants of these refugees.
In some stories, he's said to have died at age 35 but is believed by many scholars to have lived another 20 years after his enlightenment. He passed away in Nepal while traveling back to his kingdom of Magadha.
Today, Buddhism is the largest religion in India. However, it is also growing in popularity in America and Europe. In fact, Google estimates that more people search for information about Buddhism than any other religion.
Buddhism has many different schools of thought so there isn't really a single answer for where you should go to meditate. But we can say that wherever you go to practice meditation, you'll find a supportive community ready to help you navigate your path forward.