In the Buddhist context meditation is a means to transform our disturbing emotions into their essence. The methods are manifold and also differ in the Three Yanas of the Buddhadharma, all stemming from Buddha himself.
The aim of the Hinayana is to attain liberation for oneself from suffering while the Mahayana and Vajrayana base on the firm resolution of the practitioner to take all beings as their family, hence taking the vow to actually lead all the new family members to final enlightenment, not giving up until this aim will be attained.
Meditation is therefore all the means to attain this aim, Nirvana in the Hinayana or enlightenment in the Mahayana and Vajrayana. May it be silent meditation with its uncountable methods, may it be recitation, visualisation and ritual. All aims at truly attaining what we set out for.
The basis for Mahayana is Hinayana, the basis for Vajrayana is Hinayana and Mahayana together, paired with special meditation methods. That means that even if we feel a strong inclination towards Vajrayana, we will first firmly be established in the Hinayana, consequently in the Mahayana to then start with the meditation of the Vajrayana by a skilled teacher.