A Beginner’s Guide to the Types of Meditation
Meditation is the practice of training the mind to induce a mode of consciousness to either achieve some benefit or for the mind to acknowledge the content. The term applies to a variety of practices, which include relaxation techniques, internal energy building or life force, and development of compassion, generosity, love and patience. An ambitious form of meditation involves concentration in a single-pointed manner. It is meant to help the practitioner enjoy an indestructible sense of well being.
Meditation sometimes carries different meanings depending on the context of the user. Since it has existed for a long time, it has generated various forms of religious beliefs and traditions. However, it is often needed when a person wants to ease their health problems such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. It may involve, creating an emotional state for the need of daily awareness.
Types Of Meditation
Focused attention meditation
Focusing your attention on a single individual object during your meditation period is what defines this method. It may be the mantra, the breath, part of the body or the universe. Advancing in this meditation makes a person keep his flow in the object stronger. At this stage, destructions become less common for him as he can keep his focus for a long time. His steadiness and depth of meditating develop much. Examples of these include sound meditation, mantra meditation, pranayama, Loving-kindness meditation and zazen meditation.
This style of meditation does not keep the focus on a particular object. Instead, you keep your focus open. You can monitor all aspects of life the whole time without any attachment. Moreover, you do not need to put judgment to the issues. All the perceptions such as feelings and thoughts are recognized. What they mean for is what you will perceive and not create any other imagination. In this process, there is no reaction to the content from moment to moment. Examples of these include Vipassana, mindfulness, and Taoist meditations.
In this state, you do not focus on anything, but you repose on it. It is quiet, steady, empty and introverted. In other words, it is a choice less form of meditation. It is the need behind all the reflections in the world, but it’s not a reflection type in its right. All meditation techniques recognize that the focused object is just a means of training so that your inner silence may be discovered. Moreover, it also enables deeper conscious states in your body. At last, the focused object and meditation process go behind, leaving pure presence.
In some of the methods, it is just the primary focus at the start of the practice. Examples of the techniques involving this include: Self-inquiry, Dzogchen, and Taoist meditation forms. In many people’s views, the method needs some previous forms of training for one to learn the technique effectively. However, they never express it to you as they want you to learn on your own.
It originates from the Chinese Zen Buddhism tradition. Zazen means seated meditation. It traces back to the Indian monk Bodhidharma of the 6th Century. In the western culture, this form of meditation is popular from Dogen Zenji’s style. He existed in the 13th century. He was also Soto Zen’s founder. Similar styles are popular in the Rinzai school of Zen in Korea and Japan.
How to do it
What you need to do is you sit on the floor, on a cushion or a mat, having your legs crossed. In the traditional way, it was done in the lotus position. Nowadays that is not necessary to many people. Apart from sitting on the floor, sometimes you can sit on a chair and do your meditation. All you need to do is to fold your hands together in front of you and close your eyes. Keep your back in a straight manner from your neck to your pelvis. Make sure you close your mouth too. In the aspect of the mind, it is practiced in two ways:
- Focusing on your breath, Your attention in this form just focuses on the movement of your breathing as the air goes in and out of the body. You can aid this by counting the breath in your mind. To make it increase your effort start counting from 10 to 1 every time you inhale. When you arrive at one, you start from 10 again. If you get distracted in your counting, start from 10 and continue your counting. With time, you will find yourself more and more focused in your counting.
- ‘Just Sitting.’ It The Japanese calls it Shikantaza. The practitioner needs no particular object for meditation. Rather, they remain in their present moment as much as possible. They become aware of what occurs in the mind and around their presence as they are meditating. It’s a type of simple presence.
Is it for you?
Zazen is a very sober style of meditation. You may find active people practicing it. It has plenty of information on the Internet. There is an emphasis on which posture is the right form to practice it. Moreover, it’s popular in the Zen Buddhist centers with strong support from the community. In many of the centers, elements of Buddhism such as chanting, ritualism and prostrations will be inclusive. You may either like it or not. If you’re okay with the Buddhist elements, you can have one of your best moments practicing this meditation style.
The meditation style originates from Pali language where it means seeing clearly or having a real insight. It dates back to the 6th century. As they teach it, the style shows Theravada Buddhist traditions. It became popular through the Vipassana movement. Due to its popularity, the mindfulness of breathing as gained fame in the Western culture. How to practice
They emphasize much on mindfulness of breath in your first stages. By this, you develop your mind, making it active as you achieve the skills.
After concentration, the practice moves on to developing your view to have a clear insight. At this stage, it focuses on your mental phenomena and bodily sensations. You keep observing moment by moment without clinging to any of them.
What you need to do is to sit on the floor or a cushion with your spine upright. Your legs should be crossed. Alternatively, you can sit on a chair if it suits you. However, you should not support your back while seated.
You need to develop a form of concentration by creating breathing awareness. Concentrate your attention from time to time on your breathing movement. Moreover, you need to notice the sensation that your breath brings to your abdomen. On the other hand, you can focus on the feeling your breath brings to your nostrils as the air passes through them. You will also have a feel of how the air touches your upper lip as it passes from your nose. You will notice that in your act, you’ll start having other sensations such as sounds, emotions, etc. Make sure you keep your attention to the point of focus, letting other sensations as background destructions.
Is it for you?
It is an excellent form of meditation where you learn to ground yourself and understand your mind’s processes. The best thing is that there are no rituals or religious aspects. So if you’re not content with Buddhist activities, you can try Vipassana meditation. Moreover, if you are still new to meditation, it is one of the best ways to start it. You will also find that its teaching is free.
It is an adaptation of the Buddhist practices such as Vipassana but also takes from other influences such as Vietnamese Buddhism. It majorly focuses on the Mindfulness of Breathing. One of the main influences of this style of meditation is John Kabat-Zinn, which he developed in the 70s. This meditation style has become popular in several clinics and hospitals.
How to Practice
Mindfulness meditation intentionally focuses on the present moment without judging on the sensations or the emotions and thoughts arising from the practice.
Sit on a cushion, floor or a chair with an erect and unsupported back. Put some attention to your breathing making sue you’re aware of how you feel it. Do it for your session’s length with constant redirection to your breaths.
On the other hand, you can pay attention to the sensations and leave out the breaths. It does not add anything to your presence. Moreover, gently recognize if you get destructed and bring your focus to your breathing or the object bringing sensation to your mind.
Is it for you?
It is the most advisable way to start meditation if you’re a beginner. They teach it in schools and hospitals. The act is not Buddhism but a good adaptation of their practices. So if you’re from another religion, you can practice it without having to change your faith. Moreover, it is a great way to meditation if your focus is based on mental or physical fulfillment. Additionally, it is thought without any eastern philosophies and concepts that accompany the practice traditionally. It can be great and bring good things to your living. After this, you can go a step further to Vipassana, Zazen and other types of meditation.
Loving Kindness Meditation
It is also known as Metta Meditation. The word metta means being benevolent or kind. This style comes from Tibetan lineages. Compassion meditation, which is a form of metta meditation, is a general science-demonstrating efficacy of kindness and meditative acts. This thoughtful style boosts one’s ability to be friendly to others, development of compassion and a loving attitude towards oneself. You will eventually get an increased purpose in your life.
How to Practice
Sit down on a meditation position and keep your eyes closed. Generate in your mind and heart kindness and benevolence feelings. Start by giving loving-kindness towards yourself. After that, show love to others. Eventually, you’ll put compassion to all beings. The advised progression goes as follows:
- A good pal
- A neutral person
- An awkward person
- All the above four in an equal manner
- The entire universe
The eventual feeling is that which wishes happiness and well being for all beings in the universe. You may be easy if you recite some specific words to evoke your love. By this, you’ll visualize what others pass through, including their sufferings. If you imagine this, you need to wish him peace and happiness in his life. The more you practice this style, the more you’ll develop joy in your life.
Is it for you?
If you get too hard on others or need to improve your relationship with other people, it is one of the best ways to meditate. Moreover, it is beneficial to self-centered and selfless people, helping you to increase your general level of joy. Additionally, they recommend it to heal insomnia.
A mantra is a syllable or word without any particular meaning that is repeated several times for the sake of your mind. It does not affirm to convince you of something but keeps your mind on focus. Some teachers believe that the choice of the word is important as it determines the vibration of its pronunciation. On the other hand, others believe that the mantra is only the tool used to focus your mind and the word’s choice is completely irrelevant. Mantras are common in Buddhist and as well as Jainism.
How to Practice
Just like other medications, this form of meditation is done with your eyes closed and your spine upright. You then repeat the mantra severally in a silent manner during the whole session. Sometimes, it may be coupled with coordination of your breath and being aware of it. In other practices, you only whisper the mantra softly as an aid to concentration. Some of the well-known mantras from the Hindu tradition include:
- Om Namah Shivaya
- Om Mani Padme Hum
Traditionally, you have to repeat the reciting for a set of 108 or 1008 times. In the latter case, you need beads to help you do the counting. With much practice, the mantra may disappear as it continues by itself. At this point, you will get a state of inner peace.
Is it for you?
Many people find it easier to focus on a mantra than they can on breathing. The main reason is that a mantra is a word. In all ways, we perceive thoughts as words and therefore you can easily focus on mantras. When your mind races with thoughts, you’ll find mantras useful as they give constant attention. Moreover, using mantras may integrate your meditation into a daily lifestyle. In any activity you do, you may yourself repeating it in your mind every time.
It is a specific form of mantra introduced in 1955 by Mahesh Yogi. In the 1960s and 1970s, Mahesh achieved popularity for being the teacher to The Beatles and other celebrities. This form of practice has reached a global status with millions of people doing it. Many scientific researchers demonstrate its importance. On the other hand, there are many critics Of Yogi’s teachings.
How to do it
They do not teach this meditative style freely. You have to pay for you to learn from some of the licensed practitioners. However, it involves practicing a mantra for about 15-20 minutes twice a day with your eyes closed. Note, the choice of the mantra bases on the gender of the learner. Moreover, it is not unique, and there are no meaningless sounds. Many people find it irrelevant.
Is that for you
Many people do not recommend trying this style, especially if your goal is to go into deep meditation.