Home >> Different Types of Meditation
BUDDHIST MEDITATION or MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
The Buddhist form of meditation, also known as Mindfulness meditation, bases its principals on keeping the mind fully focused in the present. Not the past, not the future, just present; here and now.
The human mind is one of the most incredibly complex entities on this planet. However, most people do not use the mind to its full potential. Some would say that this factor makes us a slave to the mind. Most people unfortunately do not disassociate themselves from their minds and therefore have certain problems during meditation. The Buddha says our mind is like a chain of reactions and desires. When we catch ourselves in this downfall of reactions, we miss experiencing the true meaning of life.
For example, when eating an apple our mind might say “I’ll feel better if I eat a banana”. Then you might change your mind and instead of the apple you eat a banana. When eating the banana you might think “I’ll feel better if I eat a pineapple”, because a pineapple is supposed to be more expensive and harder to come by. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and we always want what we cannot have.
Another way to explain this technique of being fully in the present is when we engage in activities such as cooking or driving. Normally the unconscious mind will wander unaware that it is wandering. Thinking about certain things such as a previous conversation, all the things we need to do that day, or the imaginary conversations that we have in our head clouds our minds. For the mind, there is no difference between reality and our mental dialogue. Both produce feelings, emotions, and ultimately actions. Therefore these actions create reactions also known as the karma cycle.
“All sickness, all shallowness, all pain, all miseries are the outcome of one source: keeping negativity within yourself” Yogi Bhajan
Mindfulness is about keeping the mind in the here and now, and enjoying the present moment with full focus and attention. The technique is simple, you just need to keep your attention on the breath. This may be simple to say, but for the untrained mind it can be hard to achieve one pointed attention for more than three minutes.
Another common distortion of the mind is “the mental connotations”. In any situation the mind always looks in the memory bank for situations similar to those we had in the past. This happens so fast that instead of seeing and feeling that moment in particular as unique, the mind jumps immediately to what happened during a different time period. So you are not fully seeing this experience of what it is, but connecting it with a past one.
Zazen meditation is Zen Buddhism. In Japanese this means sitting in Zen, or sitting in concentration. It’s about experiencing emptiness: nothing. The way to practice this is by counting each breath. For example, one...two…three...
Focusing on the breath needs to be complete. If there are any disturbances you should start the counting all over again. This is why many beginners do not go any further than one single breath!
The goal with keeping the mind totally focused on the breath is to experience emptiness. The act of pushing any mental disturbance out will prevent you from experiencing this feeling. A firm determination of being fully present and focusing on the breath will be needed to start.
Transcendental meditation became famous in the 60's and 70's due to the fact that The Beatles started to meditate under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Today the organization has become enormous and there are over 1200 transcendental meditation centers in 108 countries. It is estimated that about five million people practice this technique today.
This technique is about repeating a holy mantra. It is recommended to do this twice a day in the morning and evening for twenty minutes each. This is not a religious organization, although they do acknowledge that the repetition of mantra brings you closer to the deities. To know more about this technique you can go to Maharishi Open University or TM.org.
VIPASSANA MEDITATION or INSIGHT MEDITATION
Vipassana meditation means one is able to see things as they really are. This practice stems from India. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was used as a remedy for any illness. The technique is based on self observation, and by observing the variants of the mind, a person can take control over their own mind. The chain of actions and reactions becomes conscious, and negativity and suffering disappear. Of course this does not happen over night; practice is required. There are courses held totally free of charge in many cities to help you with meditation. Check your local newspaper for details. This is possible because most support comes from donations.
The courses are divided into different steps:
- The first step is about “the conduct”. The aspirant should not engage in any of the following activities; murder,theft, sexual activity, lies, and intoxication. The goal is to bring calmness to the mind so it can be prepare dto self observation.
- The second step is about keeping the focus on the breath, the activity that happens in the nostrils. The goal is to master the mind by keeping the focus on the present moment.
- The third step is about observing the sensations in the body and not reacting to them. The goal is to understand the sensations in the body, develop equanimity, and learning not to react to them.
- Finally the four step is about emanating love and good will to all. The goal is to develop purity and love.
Kabbalah meditation is being taught by Jewish spiritual leaders around the globe. These teachers believe that meditation will bring one closer to God. One of these techniques is visualizing God’s name.
There are several different meditations. Beginners can start with what is called Shema meditation. Shema means to hear in Hebrew. The meditation is done by inhaling exhaling and making the sound “sh”. Then inhaling exhaling and making the sound “mm” as you fall deeper into the meditative state of mind.
Another Kabbalah technique to achieve this meditative state is focusing on the Shviti before meditating. Shviti is a line in Psalm 16.
Chanting of sacred sounds has always been a delightful way to focus the mind. This type of meditation is very powerful and effective because of the vibratory effects of their sounds.
Sound is produced when the vibration strikes the eardrum and is carried to the brain. This explains that sound is vibration. Specific vibrations can stimulate the endocrine system, specifically the pituitary gland (master gland), and pineal gland located in the head.
Chanting a mantra keeps the mind busy while you breathe in a specific pattern. It's like singing a song, your breath pattern becomes the same as the singer’s breath pattern.
Mantras are made of “current sounds”. Current sounds are specific sounds that when triggered produce a frequency. There are 84 meridian points in the palate, and when stimulated with the “current sounds” produce a specific frequency. This frequency passes from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland. Next the release of hormones takes place, and a change in mood, emotions, happens.
Through a PET scan, the device used to observe, and study the brain, it was possible to study the changes in the brain while chanting the mantra SA TA NA MA. After chanting the mantra there was a strong shift in brain activity to the right frontal and parietal regions. This shift indicates an improvement in mood alertness. Sound currents also stimulate the vagus nerve (this nerve affects the neck, jaw, heart, lungs, intestinal track, and back muscles), the nadis, and the chakras.
To know more about how mantras work go to:
Sufism is the path of the heart.
Sufi's believe that by pure devotion comes the subjugation of the lower self (ego). Through this love for God becomes the union of the lover with the beloved.
Different Sufi paths use different meditation techniques. The Naqshbandi order uses the energy of love to go beyond the mind. The first step is to focus on the feeling of love in order to activate the heart chakra. For this purpose you can think of God. A friend or relative may be easy to start with. Sufi's believe that the feeling of love will overcome the thinking process leading the person to an empty mind state.
The meditations are in silence. Through meditation they are able to cultivate silence, listening, attentiveness, and emptiness.
To know more about Sufi meditation go to Sufism.org
Dzogchen meditation, pronounced Zog-chen, is known as the natural path in Tibetan Buddhism. This type of meditation is practiced by the Dalai Lama.
Dzogchen meditation doesn’t use any special breath, mantra, or levels of concentration. It’s considered to be the most natural type of meditation.
Often you practice with your eyes open. This meditation works with the fact that all you need, all you are looking for is already inside of you.
The three basics of Dzogchen meditation are “just sitting” “just breathing” “just being”.
Chakra meditation works with the Chakras. The Chakras are visualized as a spiral energy vortex.
There are many Chakras all over the body, but the most known are seven (if we count the solar plexus there will be eight).
Each Chakra is associated with a color and different characteristics. The meditation is guided, and it is done by focusing the mind in these energy vortex and their qualities.