Although it’s an old tradition, meditation is practiced individually and in numerous communities across the world. It not only creates an intriguing sense of inner harmony and calmness but also helps to reduce the stresses of everyday life. Meditation cuts across different religions and cultures – it’s less about the faith you subscribe to and more about becoming mindful, becoming more focused and peaceful internally, and more aware of how we think and how we affect others externally. The busy schedules we follow today inevitably lead to a buildup of stress. Meditation is a very grounded and important technique for relieving stress while also working on one’s own self-awareness.
Six different meditation techniques:
1. Spiritual Meditation
Meditation is practiced extensively in Eastern religions which include Buddhism, Daoism and Hinduism, as well as in Western Christian traditions. Depending upon how practiced, it has greater or lesser elements of prayer. It is characterized by self-reflection as one ponders on the silence all around, in contrast to our internal chatter. Meditation in a religious sense helps individuals to find a deeper connection either with a Higher Deity or Power. In traditions such as Buddhism and Daoism that are fundamentally non-theistic, meditation is more about self awareness and self actualization. Knowing oneself one better knows the world around us and can care for others with kindness. In that sense spiritual meditation is becoming the best human being you can be.
You can practice spiritual meditation in your preferred place of worship or at home. This technique is best suited for individuals seeking spiritual growth as well as those who appreciate the calming power of silence.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
This meditation technique is extremely popular in the West. However, it originates from the teachings of Buddhism. Mindfulness meditation is a critical first step for overcoming one’s own dissatisfaction, and then ultimately achieving the insight necessary to benefit others. There are several steps to follow if you want to master this technique:
- Acknowledging your reality. This starts with being mindful of your body and thoughts.
- Observing your mind as it wanders, and then accepting each thought that pops into your mind
- Coming back to the object of meditation, generally the breath
- Comprehending and appreciating the present moment
This technique allows you to combine awareness with concentration. You simply require to sit with crossed legs, a straight back and a willingness to be honest with yourself. The focus of this meditation is your breathing. Whenever you find your thoughts wandering, just notice them, without judgment, and then return your focus to your breathing. It’s a great way to reduce depression, anxiety and perceived distress.
3. Movement Meditation
Unlike other forms of meditation which require you to be in one position, movement meditation can be practiced when you’re on the go. Practice this meditation technique when you’re gardening, walking in the woods, washing and performing other subtle forms of motion. More formal types of this practice include yoga, tai chi, and many martial arts. Movement is the object of this meditation.
This technique is best suited for people who have trouble sitting still as well as those who derive peace from action.
4. Focused Meditation
In this technique, you use one of your five senses to concentrate, or six if you include mind. A chess player for example uses mental focus to look ahead a number of moves. Athletes, business people, just about everyone has learned to focus the mind on what you’re doing – this is critical for success in life. In general, you can either focus on an internal element (such as your breath, feelings or your body) or concentrate on an external object.
Whatever the sense object, you should focus your attention on exactly that, and what you’re doing. When you’re eating you just eat, when you’re exercising you’re just doing that. Most of us distract ourselves by trying to do many things at once. This leads to a scattered mind and a lot of dissatisfaction. What’s most important is to not become frustrated, and gradually you will find that over time you return your focus back to what you’re doing once you find your mind wandering. Over time, your concentration span improves and your mind wanders less.
5. Visualization Meditation
In this meditation technique, an image is evoked in the mind to create a particular feeling. In a simple way, you can close your eyes and visualize a beautiful lake or mountain, open sky or a familiar landscape. On a more formal level visualization on a particular Tibetan mandala or deity can be used to evoke inner qualities of compassion and wisdom. However, for this type of practice you really need instruction from a skilled teacher.
Many people think visualization is a kind of escape from the world, imagining something that isn’t really there. But if you stop to think about it, most of the thinking we do throughout the day is precisely that – bringing into our consciousness memories about the past or fears of the future – something that isn’t really there! Visualization is a technique that uses this powerful aspect of mind for positive personal transformation.
6. Chanting Meditation
Many teachings and religions possess prominent aspects of chanting and mantra meditation, including Western religions as well as Buddhist and Hindu traditions. For chanting, the mind can simply be focused on the chant, sounds of the words and melody, while contemplating the meaning. Mantra meditation technique makes use of a repetitive sound, word or phrase to clear the mind. “Om” is the most common sound used in mantra meditation.
Over time, chanting a mantra allows you to be both mindful and extremely alert. As a spiritual practice it helps you to achieve deeper awareness levels. Once again, it is important to find a qualified teacher for any true spiritual practice.
There you have it, six powerful types of meditation. There is scientific proof linking meditation to improved sleep, reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, decreased pain and a myriad of other health benefits, and in addition all the benefits of increased self awareness. People who practice a daily meditation technique can attest to the holistic benefits that have resulted in their lives.