You’re undoubtedly well aware of the rich benefits of Buddhism meditation by now. Question is, how many Buddhist meditation practices are you familiar with? Gautama Buddha, the central figure of Buddhism religion, was a well-known enlightened teacher who shared deep insights aimed at ending suffering among sentient beings. Buddha is attributed to a variety of teachings which were originally passed from one generation to another through oral tradition and later preserved in sacred Buddhist texts. There’s a wide array of Buddhist meditation techniques, all of which help meditators to develop mindfulness, insight (vipassana) and tranquility (samatha).
How do Buddhists Meditate?
- Metta/loving kindness
One of the most popular Buddhist meditation practices is Metta (or lovingkindness) meditation. This type of meditation is highly encouraged in Mahayana Buddhism. According to this faction, a meditator first ought to work in his/her own liberation before advocating for the liberation of every other being. To practice Metta meditation, you should first visualize Buddha sitting right in front of you. Beside him should be other great Buddhas and Daikinis of old. Feel the tremendous love that emanates from their hearts and pour into yours. Also visualize your loved ones sitting behind you, together with your friends and all of humanity. Feel the immense flow of love pouring throughout, cleansing and purifying your entire essence.
- Vipassana/empty mind
Vipassana meditation is a major Theravada Buddhist meditation practice that involves cultivating an empty mind to reach enlightenment. It is comprised of three main components which include:
- Sitting in a comfortable meditation posture: find a pose that doesn’t hurt your back or knees. The Full lotus position works best. If you’re still uncomfortable, try the Burmese or half lotus postures instead. Ensure that your back is straight and avoid slumping your backbone.
- Observing your breath: Use abdominal breathing and ensure that you have long, deep in-breaths and out-breaths. Preferably, inhale using your nose and then exhale from your mouth. Also ensure that your breath is gentle and regular.
- Observing each thought that pops into your mind without engaging them. Simply observe thoughts as they enter and leave your mind.
- The Brahmavihara or Four Immeasurables
These refer to a collection of 4 Buddhist virtues that include compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity and empathetic joy. When cultivated, these 4 immeasurable Buddhist meditation virtues can cause meditators to achieve a deep sense of reflection and self-awareness.
- Compassion helps you to identify the suffering that others are experiencing, putting yourself in their shoes for a change.
- Loving-kindness refers to the presence of love and goodwill towards other people.
- Empathetic joy enables us to feel immense joy when other people are happy. It is a sympathetic joy of sorts.
- Equanimity refers to achieving a state of serenity and even-mindedness. This means treating everyone equally and fairly.
Guided Buddhist Meditation
If you’re just starting your Buddhist meditation practice but aren’t quite sure how to go about it, try using the guided Buddhist meditation. You could either use online resources or download a meditation app directly to your phone. The Mindworks: Guided Meditation App, for instance, contains a variety of daily meditations that will guide you in your sessions. It also contains helpful Mind Talks from numerous meditation experts. Trungram Gyalwa, for instance, talks about the immense benefits of meditation in one of this inspiring mind talks. He also leads you through a comprehensive guided meditation technique to help you work with frenemies.
Apart from using guided Buddhist meditation, you could also join your local meditation class. It’s a great way to interact with other like-minded people and achieve amazing meditation experiences. Now that we’ve answered how do Buddhist meditate, it’s time to try it out for yourself. Have fun!