The practice of meditation has existed for ages, but over the last couple of decades, the use of meditation has become more popular due to the rise in stress and anxiety of modern life.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve health, and increase inner peace.
Meditation should be simple, comfortable, and should have the results that will motivate you to do it regularly. There are several different types of meditation. It is important to find a type that meets your needs and complements your personality.
A few popular types of meditation practices are briefly described below.
Mindfulness Meditation comes from the Buddhist tradition and its simple nature has made it one of the most popular meditation techniques.
This technique is about keeping the mind fully focused in the present. Not the past or future, but just enjoying the present moment with full focus and attention, observing and accepting all thoughts and emotions that arise, without judgment.
You don’t even need to sit with eyes closed to be “mindful”. You can practice mindfulness almost anywhere, including while you’re eating, walking, driving, or doing housework.
Many consider mindfulness meditation to be among the most effective non-drug therapies for improving stress levels.
Vipassana is a 2500-year-old Buddhist meditation practice, also known as Insight Meditation, which means “to see things as they really are”. It focuses on self-transformation through self-observation.
To calm the mind, Vipassana stresses on the awareness of the breath, concentrating on the air passing in and out through the nose. Vipassana also teaches you to identify thoughts and experiences as they arise, and each time bring your focus back to your breath.
This meditation technique helps increase internal awareness and has been proven to reduce stress.
Free 10-day Vipassana meditation courses (as taught by Shri SN Goenka) are held all over the world.
Focused Attention Meditation
Also known as Concentration Meditation, it involves focusing your attention on a single object throughout the meditation session. The object can be something internal or external such as your breath, part of body, mantra, visualization, counting mala beads, listening to a gong, or staring at a candle flame.
If your mind wanders, it’s important to come back to the practice and refocus.
This type of meditation trains the mind to concentrate and cut all distractions. Moreover, it allows your mind to be calm and awake.
Mantra Meditation comes from the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. A mantra is a word, phrase, or sound such as OM that is repeated to clear the mind.
Chanting of a mantra has always been a pleasant way to focus the mind. The mantra gives you something to put your attention on other than your thoughts.
It doesn’t matter if your mantra is spoken loudly or quietly, after repeating the mantra for some time, you will be more alert and in tune with your environment. This allows you to experience deeper levels of consciousness.
Transcendental Meditation or TM is a specific form of mantra meditation founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in the mid-1950s in India.
Each person is given a personal mantra used for its vibrational qualities. This method involves chanting this personal mantra. Repetition of the mantra is meant to calm the mind and release stress.
The TM technique requires a course of instruction from a certified teacher.
Zen Meditation (Zazen)
Zazen means “seated meditation” in Japanese. It is a type of Zen Buddhist meditation where you focus your attention on your breath, and observe thoughts and experiences as they pass through the mind, letting them drift away.
Correct posture and breathing are an important part of Zazen, and the way to practice this method is by counting each breath. The emphasis of the breath is at the belly, instead of the nose (as in Vipassana).
Some other types of meditation include Kundalini and Chakra meditation, Metta meditation, Qi Gong, Guided Visualization etc. There are so many different types of meditation that if one isn’t working or isn’t comfortable, just try a new one.
Meditation isn’t meant to be a forced thing. It takes time to master. Gentle, regular practice eventually helps you achieve that level of inner peace you are looking for.
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