As mentioned earlier, progress along the Path requires meditation. The mind must be your ally and not your enemy. The Buddha did not invent meditation; such techniques were being practiced in his day and for thousands of years before his time.
As you may recall, the Buddha was a meditation prodigy, falling into a meditative state spontaneously under the rose apple tree when he was eight-years-old and was the star pupil of his Hindu ascetic teachers Alara Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra. Under their tutelage he attained profound states of samahdi (concentration).
These trance-like states, while quite profound, always left him back in samsara once he was done meditating. The other risk of this one-pointed intensive meditation is that it could become addictive, promoting subtle craving for more and more sublime experiences. In a sense these trance states provided an escape from reality, not liberation from it.
While concentration is an important foundation for training the mind, it was not the ultimate solution he was seeking. The Noble Eightfold Path includes right mindfulness and right effort in addition to right concentration. Mindfulness was the method that most directly spoke to the impermanence of things and helped the Buddha to realize his awakening.
Right concentration is an important foundation for right mindfulness. It is by practicing the appropriate forms of concentration that you make mindfulness more available. One technique used in meditation for right concentration is concentration on the breath.
For example, you can pay attention to your breathing, noticing the sensations of the inhalation and the exhalation. When attention is pulled away by thoughts, images, or emotions, you bring your attention back to the sensations of breathing happening now. When attention is pulled into the future or starts dragging the past along, you disengage from those fantasies and memories and return attention to this sensation of the breath happening now.
This type of meditation is called one-pointed meditation, because you are focused on one point and keep coming back to that point. By practicing right concentration you can come to mindfulness of the moment. Right concentration supports right mindfulness. Together with right effort they form the third element of the Eightfold Path, known as samadhi (meditation).