How important is meditation for contacting the spirit world?
It's vital. If we are going to become aware of senses outside of ourselves we have to sit in silence and get to know the rhythm of our own bodies before we can begin to understand external energies. You don't have to be training to be a medium to want to receive answers to your deepest questions or to sense the higher world. Some people meditate for peace, to combat stress and to find an inner stillness. Others meditate for decision making, to contact spirit guides and for personal spiritual development. It's your choice, but it's a good idea to set the intention before you start, that way the mind is clearer.
People have a misconception about meditation in that they believe that the mind should have no thoughts during the silence. Of course this is practically impossible. The mind is complicated, thoughts come and go all the time, it is unrealistic to expect the thought process to halt just because you expect it to. The trick to quieting the mind is to ignore its ramblings. With practise it becomes easier to allow thoughts to come to you, but not to acknowledge them. To let them flow over you and away without following the train of thought they tempt you with. You can imagine them flowing gently away down a stream if it helps you to visualise.
Meditation is a healthy practise and can help in times of stress to give perspective and balance. Meditiaion for spirit contact is different however. To sit in the silence for spirit contact you must meditate regularly and at the same hour each time for the best results. You need the discipline and regular sitting means that the energy builds up within you gently and steadily.
A little tip if you are meditating with spirit and think that you have made a connection is to get a confirmation from the guide or spirit. You can ask for a confirmation or affirmation to be made in your aura, if positive you will feel the aura shudder from top to bottom and may feel emotion too. Also when you ask a question you often receive the answer before you have finished asking and before your thinking brain has had time to work out any logical answer. You learn with practise to recognise the signs that are personal to you. You can, if you like, write as you meditate. Just let the words flow without thinking too much about the content until you read it back afterwards.
You can meditate with a candle, or card or any object you like to focus on. You can play soft music or use a singing bowl or similar to set the tone. It's up to you. Just remember that when you bring yourself back into your wakeful state to ground yourself, drink some water and eat something. Meditation can bring altered states of consciousness so it's important that you are sensible and don't do it after drinking alcohol - as for drugs - the two things don't go together and can be dangerous. As long as you work safely you should enjoy your time of peace and self indulgence.