Usually our mind is constantly engaged in thoughts and can only experience a limited sense of peace. The first aspect of meditation is trying to quieten and ultimately still the mind.
The complement to silencing the mind is ‘opening the heart.’ As we begin to reduce our thoughts and desires, it enables our inner heart to come to the fore. The spiritual heart is the part of our being which encompasses inner silence and our inner joy. It is the heart that is the seat of the soul – our inner being – the connecting link with God.
When we feel an awakening in the heart, this helps very much to quieten the mind. The heart has its own power and intensity. If we get joy from the heart, it becomes increasingly easier to feel detached from the mind and our thought processes. If stopping our thoughts seems an impossible task – don’t worry, concentrate on strengthening the awareness of the heart instead.
A beginner may start meditation and think – stopping my thoughts is very challenging. And, in many ways it is! We cannot expect to stop all thoughts over night – even after a few years of practise, it is not easy. But, as long as we take our first steps to quietening the mind, we also enable the journey of the heart to begin. Some seekers will make more progress through concentrating on the heart – rather than fighting the unruly mind. Focusing on the heart will make our task increasingly easy.
Even if our mind is not perfectly still, we can still start to have a good meditation by bringing the heart to the fore. In the heart, we will feel an inner cry and a sensation of peace.
Quietening the mind helps the heart to come to the fore, but equally bringing our heart to the fore helps to silence our thoughts. Each aspect reinforces the other.
“How will you make the mind calm and quiet? The mind has its own power, but right now your determination does not have the same degree of power. The mind’s power is now stronger than your present eagerness to meditate. But if you can get help from your heart, then easily you will be able to control the mind. The heart gets constant assistance from the soul; and the soul has all light and all power. If you take help from the heart, then you won’t allow all kinds of silly rubbish — unlit, undivine thoughts — to enter into your mind.”
– Sri Chinmoy 
When we start meditation ‘the heart’ may sound a vague concept, but if we keep concentrating there – we will definitely start to feel a new consciousness.
The heart also relates to a chakra or spiritual energy centre. There are seven main chakras. One of these is found very near the physical heart. If we concentrate on this part of our being we can begin to feel the chakra – something like a spinning disc. This is a sign we are starting to awaken the heart. It is a sweet sensation and will further help our meditation.
 Sri Chinmoy, Dependence and assurance, Agni Press, 1975