There are many different forms of meditation. Any time you are so focused on anything that you block out everything else, you are practicing a form of meditation.
The meditation that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought to this country is called transendental meditation. It uses a "mantra" to focus on along with proper breathing and atmosphere. When he first introduced it in this country,(1955) he was giving lectures in central park and didn't charge anything for initiation into the practice(involves getting your"own" mantra). What he found was that noone much was interested.
He went back to India and studied the problem and came to the conclusion, that westerners only place value on things that have a price tag. So he came up with a price for his services. At first he charged one weeks wages. No matter who you were or what you did. That didn't work because a junior exec. making 1,500 a week felt ripped off when the paper boy got the same service for what he collected in a week! Then he set prices. One for adults, one for children, one for students. That's still how it is as far as I know.
There was enough interest at one point, (back in the 60's) that the U.S. military investigated having it implimented into basic training. Some of the high ranking officers still do it. There are many benifits. It improves hearing, eyesight, sense of taste and smell. It is theraputic for the thyroid and gives you greater powers of concentration and logic. There were lab tests done with moniters hooked all over the bodies of the subjects.
Anyway, before this turns into a book, they finaly concluded, that it would be too "foriegn" to be widely accepted and dropped the idea of adopting it.
As far as I know there are still centers around the world, including the U.S., where you can get initiated and learn the practice.
I remember hearing about a school that was started called M.I.T. that was devoted entirely to the practice and things related to it. It might have been in Indiana, but I really don't recall.
Just for the record, it is not a religous practice, it is a therapy.
As I said, there are many different forms of meditation, TM is only one, but it is practiced by many people world wide and accepted as very beneficial to one's overall well being.
Hope this gives you a little more insight into the subject.
Have a good one!